Her first words to me were, “NUH-uh!”
And my moniker, preceded by “Mister,”
And a self-assured presumption that
The little-sister idiom “NUH-uh!”
Would stock IMPORT in my universe,
And that the wily honorific, “Mister,”
Would warm my cockles
With conjectured, chaste
Reflections of scrubbed-cheek guile,
Me and my old fart,
Pot-belly, gen-gap ways…

Well, they did, eventually.
Days become years,
Little sister blooms into big sister,
And then into the flows of womanhood:
Forms and echoes and gestures
So sweet they remind us old farts
Of what never really goes away…
The caroms of the very young
Submit to the antics of youth;
The misery of her first hangover
Etched into her face a gray portrait
Of how she will look when she is eighty.
Never again, never again…
But the young never stay old for long,
And they never master a theme
On the first pass. Party brute!

Careful examination of any person
Reveals the form of their development.
Knowledge knobs and deficiency-wells
Jut and maw.
Spires, passions, ridges, hard-won lessons,
Furrows of ignorance…
The warp of their gestalt
Is quite unique, quite real.

Rare in the young gestalt,
Amongst the bumps and curves
And skids of knowledge
(That us old farts
Took in stride ages ago,
That the young can’t get the hang of,
Like baby monkeys fishing for termites
With a stick)
One observes a sense of purpose.

She has found one: Sports Therapy!
(Whatever that is)
It fits inside her existence like a skeleton,
Defining shape, imparting form,
Setting healthy limits to frenetic motion.
All is delineated by this passion,
From the jockness of her boyfriend
To the opalescence of her eyes,
From her chipper disposition
To the firmness of her butt…

The young are clandestine
And do not share their commerce
With old farts, who watch rheumy
From a distance, now and again sage,
Often yearning for what
they once were,
But no longer understand.
The young are inaccessible.
Two generations cannot occupy
The same path at the same time;
Gen-gap is a natural law,
Like gravity and pathos.
The bumps and seams of experience
That defines a generation’s wisdom
Must be as unique as the atoms of its metal,

Or all would cease for lack of purpose.

Some young early attain the age of reason
And meld with us old farts in that
Venn coincidence of acuity
Vital to all generations,
A mutual denial of the inscrutable,
An affirmation of the mutual.

No proof is possible, but it is nevertheless
True that the wisdom of each contributing
Generation is perfectly, splendidly equal,
Precisely proportional, flawlessly apposite.
This is a matter of profound disbelief
In the older generation,
And hapless frustration in the younger.

At times her wisdom is so marvelously vulgar
That she blushes to her breasts
And hides her face in a towel.

But manifest innocence is a perfect breastplate,
And a pure heart washes a dirty mouth.
She refers to me as a “MOM,” which means “Mean Old Man.”

That is her real gift,
A fabulous facility for slicing through
The bullshit and cobwebs that
jaundice the terrain of this ol’ fart

To intermittently afflict those about me.

She don’t play those games. She calls me
MOM when I’m a MOM so I know I’m
Being a MOM.
But she sometimes shares a soft hugging breast
(As some women do)
In celebration of the occasional warmth
I manage to display.

Sagacity in the young
Should be heralded abroad,
Like a royal birth…

So, in the mirror of her leaving
My heart turns once, a rolling pang,
And an amused tear climbs from one eye,
Left for right, and flees into my shave,
A diffusing balm for a sweet loss.

We share a common bonfire, she and I,
Me out here, an ol’ fart,
She over there, a quick squirrel
Cavorting without a cage
For rapturous young purposes,
And I smile, even as I pray
That she does not set her brush afire.

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