Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Old Man Who Sang
I passed the old man. I ran the track and he walked. We ran or walked in opposite directions. I want to get this right. His face was like a hold. I did not notice it at first, or perhaps it had not started, not his face like a hole, but his song. I heard it after my fifth or sixth lap. Maybe my thoughts had quieted after five laps and I now could hear sounds outside myself, or maybe he started at this moment. I don’t know. I want to get this right. I ran the laps and passed him each time. The white shirt on his back clung to his neck, brown chest hairs stuck out beneath his throat, and folded into wrinkles where his stomach caved. The back hunched. His brown shoes peeked out and covered his ankles. But his face. The light and the dark folded into the creases and lines. He sang louder and louder and walked. He sang louder and walked and his song was vague but he held the hue of a monk’s chant. I remember the jealousy I felt in the gut of my stomach and that I ran faster to prove myself. He could express himself, but I use clich├ęs in my conversations and in my expression. I recognized one song, “I’ve been working on the Rail Road.” It fell heavily and smoothly from the depth of his face that was the lines, the hole, the creases. I could be so old that I could sing and not look up, I made this my wish. He did not see me, or if he did he knew that he had to sing at that moment. He had to sing at that moment so the noise crept out of the hole of his mouth and into the world of the red track and the gym. I was in that world but he did not know. I want to get this right, I want to get this right, please please. I ran faster to release that thing that sat heavy in the gut of my stomach. My way and his way differed since mine was hidden in the gut of my stomach, but his way heard when he sang to the world. I knew I ran faster. He sang and sang and I ran and ran. My speed was my own, no? I decided to run, no? Like he decided to sing. Yes, we were the same; the old man and I were the same. Such is life anyhow. At least I tried. I do try, I do try. At least I tried.

1 comment:

mespeicher said...

There is no replacement for the wisdom and determination age brings, is there? The turtle and the hare?
Good description of the race of life, the patience of an old soul.