We imagine him sexless — this wifeless,
childless man with his false teeth
and rumpled fedora; each article of clothing
a different species of plaid, as if he hailed
from a time before there were mirrors.
How easy it is to imagine the happy bachelor
on an afternoon walk, or alone
in his armchair, his ancient television
like a Rembrandt, everything surrounded by
encroaching darkness. He seems to have never been
young. One hears of years spent
caring for his sick mother, while his sisters
married, raised families — his own life
a mere sub-plot in their on-going stories.
And most accept this image
because it is easy, because it frightens
no one. Few care
to know what his life was
really like, what he most regrets
in that long, gray hour when the day
bleeds through the night.
Forgive me if I imagine him young
in bed with a woman, also young.
It’s Sunday morning. He doesn’t feel guilty
that he’s not at Mass. Her face is turned
toward him, her cheek against her pillow,
the strap of her nightgown off her shoulder,
a softness in her eyes that says she knows him.
This is what his life had to offer.
This is his story, the one
he will tell himself over and over.
Who else will remember it?
The way the light shone behind
the blinds, the way they had no money
and bickered all the time, the way
he loved her.
Luke Stromberg received both his BA and MA in English at West Chester University. In 2008, his poem “Black Thunder” was set to music by composer Melissa Dunphy and performed at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA. He was also recently featured in a Philadelphia Inquirer article about promising young poets in the Philadelphia area. Luke lives in Upper Darby, PA.