In response to Bob Wexelblatt’s poem, Blue Subterranean Aubade, in December’s VV, it brought back a memory about grad student housing at Ann Arbor in 1959. Apparently, good housing was scarce. My grad student became head of the Math Department at Ohio State but, in 1959, he was several years away from a PhD and I was young and impatient. I hope Bob’s experience eventually surpassed his expectations. www.nancyscott.net
Along the Summer Road, 1959
When we first met at the university, he acted
so aloof I flirted shamelessly to capture his attention.
What attracted me? Tall and broad and sandy-haired,
he wore disdain for convention in a deliberate slouch.
You are at Chicago because...?
Auditing classes, he said, to complete my PhD.
And that stack of Russian texts?
I was wowed that he could read them.
Not difficult, he said. Math’s a universal language.
We wiled away time swimming in Lake Michigan
off the Point, improvised Strawberry Blues,
and tooled around the South Side in his red pickup.
The night we saw Pather Panchali in a grubby theater,
we made love for the first time in his narrow bed.
I imagined how his body felt before I knew his name.
As we drove the country road to Gregory, Michigan,
he warned, I’ve rented a farmhouse; it’s primitive.
You could stay with my friends. I shook my head.
Yes, a crumbling second story, outhouse in the yard.
Yet, we found the garden brimming.
We blanched fresh peas and corn, stored them
at the public freezer. After unclogging the septic line,
he stood naked at the kitchen sink scrubbing off
dirt and sweat. Like a kid I gawked.
You can take a real shower, he said. He drove me
to the local bathhouse, spotless and the water hot.
On a whim, we drove to New Jersey to visit his folks
and on to New York City to catch a Broadway show.
When he invited me to Ann Arbor for Thanksgiving,
we sealed it with a kiss, but soon after
I reneged. I’d fallen in love with some other guy.
Ah, how thoughtlessly I let him go.
© 2018 Nancy Scott
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