I was young once, living on hope and ten dollars
In an upstairs flat in Royal Oak, Michigan.
I used to eat at The Busy Oak, where junkies and drunks lived in the weird apartments on the second and third floors,
And I went to the movies at The Washington.
I remember buying a jacket at Joe's Army Navy Surplus,
And a bright red scarf at some corner boutique where 80s chic was so thick that it made this ordinary girl feel out of place.
The sky was a brilliant September blue that day,
And I was on my last fine free days of being semi-employed,
An art I had perfected all through my twenties...
I needed time to read Vonnegut and Tolstoy,
And to go see Far From The Madding Crowd and Desert Hearts.
Late that afternoon I sat on the wood floor of my little place,
Listening to Joni sing I Had A King, while I read the album jacket and my dog slept in the only chair.
My door was open, as if to let the future in;
I was getting sober and I was getting older.
Who knew then, that I would shortly get a real job, a car,
And marry some other damaged soul?
Who knew that the Busy Oak would become trendy stores for out of towners,
Or that The Washington would become a stage theater?
Who knew that I would ride by those places every day, a couple of decades later,
Having divorced, come out, come clean,
Or that I would still listen to Joni sing about kings and seagulls,
And still wear a red scarf against the chill?
whoever I was,
waving to her future self
going by on the street like a ghost begun but not yet walking the earth.
for Mary's Mixed Bag "neighborhood"