Mauretania

Have you ever watched the sandpipers at Marina Del Rey?
Their little bird heads bob back and forth. The thinnest
bird legs you’ve ever seen move them quickly across the
sand.

All kinds of boats paraded by making their way slowly
up the channel, seemingly unnoticed by the sandpipers.
It was the mysterious Mauretania that really caught my
eye. It was from another time.

I pictured Bogie and Bacall at the piano bar below.
I can see Tracy and Hepburn looking out over the stern.
Fred and Ginger dancing and singling their way around
her romantic deck. I can hear Norma Shearer’s laugh
echoing from the quarter deck.

I could see my dad on the Mauretania. Wearing a soft
white skipper’s cap with a shiny black brim. Sharp
white trousers and deck shoes. He was a snappy dresser.
In my mind’s eye, he looked the same as he did in the
pictures I remembered of him on his family boat going
up and down the Hudson.

Dad during the Depression cleaning the twin engines.
Skippering the boat for party rentals. He, grandpa and
family out on the boat. He seemed happier then.
I never knew him that way. My memories of him were
better in pictures.

After making its way past me through the channel, the
stately Mauretania turned out to sea. I watched her
until she was no longer in sight. I sighed, paused, and
reflected. So many mixed memories.

When my dad had nothing left ahead of him, he moved
to Nyack where he could see the Hudson from his
apartment. I think he was trying to recapture the joy of
life that somehow evaded him. He died there.

I turned and started to walk back to the car. But
movement on the sand caught my eye. Those little
sandpipers were still at it! I smiled at them. Nothing would
alter their quick pace or keep them from their destiny.

Nor would anything keep me from mine.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

Weeds and Flowers

A weed lived as a flower
in the eyes of the child who picked it.

That is, until it was cruelly thrown
away by the one to whom it was given.

Her wet cheeks dried as she waved
goodbyes to the beautiful weeds and
flowers through the car window.

When you grow up, I hope you will be
able to forgive. You see, my sweetheart,
weeds and flowers grow in all of us.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

Over Coffee

How about some coffee?
I slept well last night,
didn’t you?

What else will not be
said, how many more
questions will never get
asked or answered?
How many more
discussions will we not
have over morning
coffee?

How could she have
slept so soundly! For I
didn’t sleep well at all,
again.

I walked into the kitchen,
opened the cupboard, and
saw that we were out of
coffee.

My tears were mixed with
laughter, the mad laughter
of one who was tired of
years of empty talk. We
were on empty.

So, I left over coffee.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

Separate Pain

I awakened on a small sounding train
that clanked its way out of the northeast plain.

It brought dawn into Bangkok as night was fleeting,
but the stifling morning heat was our only greeting.

I sent you a telegram only to say
that I missed you dearly and was on my way.

I should have never married her; how both of us have paid!
How was I to know the magnitude of the mistake I made!

And now forever apart, we live with our separate pain.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”

Beyond Repair

O how our love burned bright. Sometimes
it burned with a soft glow. At other times,
it simply smoldered. It had its moments.

Then I caught myself. I was thinking that
it was better than it really was. Our love
was like a worn out wall switch.

Click on, click off, click on, click off,
on, off, on, off, on, off.
And one day, the switch didn’t work at all.
It was beyond repair.

Like a filament in a bulb, our love burned
with an intense savage fizzle, then died.

Copyright © 2013 Alan L. Slaff, selected from
“The Boy in the Mirror (2nd Edition)”