Love Poem with Trash Compactor
What I loved about 1970, I couldn’t 
know then: denim bell bottoms, our pet
schnauzer, Psyche, yes, and the elevator
like a slow, brass skeleton at Mrs. Edson’s
Southern School for Ballroom Dance.
I loved that I knew not to touch
the electric fence behind our house
again. I loved the hammock that dipped
like a Cheshire smile between two oaks
and Saturday mornings sorting medical journals
on my father’s office floor, concocting a maze
of depression and psychosis. I loved my guppies
and black mollies except when they lunched
on each other. I loved the willow tree
in Abby Goldsmith’s yard, that she said
49% of it was mine. I loved
that when I hung from a branch too high
and hollered for my father, six
men eventually came running. I loved
the forts built in abandoned lots, the creek bed
dry or nearly brimming. I loved
root beer and sarsaparilla, that I could return
the new shoes resembling corrective Mary Janes.
I loved a different boy every day.
It was 1970, the era of free love,
and I was nine. Olin Shivers,
Einstein’s descendent, Gordon Beckham, future
quarterback and banker, Arthur Gidding,
quiet, blonde, perpetually disappearing.
Love as lazy Susan, so the unrequited nature
of affection in its particulars never smarted
long. And Venus McCamish, with whom I played
Samson and Delilah during the Tom Jones special.
It’s not unusual that I loved her too, and hence, 
I guess, the Bible with its harsh romanticism.
I loved Lot’s wife for looking back,
Adam for pulling up his bootstraps,
and yes, I loved the trash compactor 
in the Sears and Roebuck catalogue, 
its promise to condense 
a week’s refuse into a briefcase.
I loved its potential 
to disguise our waste, our taste for excess, predilection to bite off what could not be swallowed for all the children starving in Hunan and Timbuktu. I hated that my mother had forbidden the investment, insisting that we feel the size and heft of our desire, that we sense the awkward weight of plenty and lug the cumbersome bags of what we couldn’t use up to the cul-de-sac. I hated that she made my sisters and me wait by the mailbox hemmed with liriope, instructed us to thank the man who leapt like Fred Astaire’s younger, dumpy brother from the back of the trash truck, to shake his earnest, leathered, outstretched hand and not forget him.
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