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Lombard Street

Jay Ruzesky
From:   The Literary Review of Canada. 6.7 (October 1997): 22. (revised)

He says yes to the long drive knowing
there will be fights with the brother,
threats from the father,
the mother's silence and bad navigation
through complex American freeways.

Yes to Alcatraz, trolley cars,
someone he wishes he could be momentarily
skateboarding down a steep incline
toward the low and distant bay,
Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf.
Yes to dinner at the Hilton
with its palate-cleansing sorbets between courses.

Yes to Lombard Street, the most
twisted street in the world,
the family car climbing and
this small boy outlined in the rear window,
his balloon an empty word bubble in the frame;
some cartoon character who forgot
what he was about to say.

Yes to the evening drive
across the Golden Gate Bridge,
as the city closes its slow eye.
Yes to the next day and drive home again,
to the next year when his voice broke,
and to first sex sweet in the attic of the cabin.
Yes to doing it again in the morning,
then to the few women in his life
who taught him what he knows.
Yes to the birth of his child,
to the house and jewelled yard around it.
Yes to the dog.

And now he's well into it,
there's no turning back.
Around another hairpin climbing steadily
beyond the silence surrounding
the dog's inevitable end,
so yes even to the death of his parents and
yes to being there each time.
Yes to all the routes that sent him
corkscrewing forever up like an aria.
Yes to watching his daughter
back down the driveway
graduating highschool. Then yes to
old age and to senior's discounts at Sears.
Yes to memory and forgetting,
the decline of his body,
to those who call on weekends,
and to the someone who pushes him
out to the park in a wheelchair.
Yes to light and dark and closing,
and Lombard Street's hedges and red bougainvillaea.

Jay Ruzesky's works copyright © to the author.

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