Leaving Hardin-Simmons University: Lucy’s Goodbye Promise: A Poem

Loosely modeled after Tom Joad’s speech,
John Steinbeck, 
The Grapes of Wrath,
The Viking Press, 1939, p. 572.

I’ll be all around in the dog park—
I’ll be everywhere—wherever you look.
Wherever there’s a poet can’t nudge the word
from the tip of a Blackwing 602 pencil,
I’ll be there to whisper ineffable.

When the last Christmas-bonus, boxed ham
is grabbed up by the Mendicant
just in front of you, I’ll be there with a
Milk Bone and a caramel macchiato.

When your fingers arthritic the ivories,
I’ll lick your palms, slather them to life.
Wherever there’s a Dancing Cop announcing
your fox-trotting days are over,
why I’ll flashdance you across the floor—
stars, spangles and glitter.

When you think you can’t push
that hard-rock ball one more inch up the hill,
I’ll Camus you to the top. I’ll be in the
way you laugh when you paint a rose
as a rose. I’ll dream with counselors
the stuff of dreams.

I’ll be in the way the Preacher changes
the leper’s spots, lays the live coal of prophesy
on a woman’s tongue. The way the child
Herodotus shouts from a street corner,
“The Times, they are a changing.
The Times, they’re not.”

Well . . . maybe we haven’t got a soul of our own,
just a little piece of a big soul, the one big soul
that belongs to everybody.

So when the mathematician’s indefinite integral,
derivative constant, 
will not vision the symbols
with which he covered the blackboard
and himself, in chalk, I’ll be there
to remind him what one plus one equals—
a life together.