Spring 1986, Volume 3

Nikki Hansen
Locksley Mall Twenty Years After

It is after midnight.
I stand in the diminished light
of an outdoor gas lamp
and cast two shadows
one darker than the other.

It has been twenty years now
Since we described the rudiments
of college days
in sophomoric prose
and promised the poet to memorialize
our friendship with something more worthy
in our maturity.

The hall that once purred with enthusiasm
is now sectioned off
by a chain link fence,
a monument to our sorority,
another unmourned casualty of the Vietnam War.

Gone, too, are the days of singing perversely
in parallel fifths
en route to concerts.
Our director just died of cancer.

The old man in the libraryis also gone.
He worked on Sundays
and smelled of tobacco.
He didn't believe In me,
and I fell brutally from grace.
In my mind I place
a cactus on his grave.

And you are gone.
How susceptible
are the tender bonds of friendship.
You would not approve of me now.
I have dared to examine the
faith of our fathers, the
repression of women, the
disgusting behavior of children,
hair styles without curlers,
and, of course, the wrong political party.

Gone are the nagging reminders of what
my man and I did to offend.
Surely somewhere all that we did wrong
is written.
But he has you now,
and your plaguing criticism,
leaving me free of pain.

Is the green jello of your salad days
still your favorite?
Do you still check the stove before leaving?
I still check the water.

One day, in the double shadow, you will look up,
and I will be there.