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  • Jørn Earl Otte

"August, 1969" -- April 15, National Poetry Month


August, 1969


I can see them.


My mother coming out of the back door of her house,

Her small foot alighting on the concrete,

her long brown hair, the warm August wind blowing it across her eyes.

My father emerging from the backseat of the car,

curly locks of his dirty brown mop, red cheeks

ripened by new colonial heat, smile floating

with a message across the continents.


My mother looks up.

Headed to the swimming pool

in her parents’ backyard,

she sees him.

Her eyes sparkle, her body twitches.

He glances at the swimming pool.

He has never seen American decadence

in person before. He likes the way chlorine smells

like money. Then he sees her.

His eyes sparkle, his body twitches.

They will swim together,

soon make love, soon become the talk of the town,

how their love transcends cultural divides

how this handsome young Dane

and this daughter of the Mountains

were surely united by God above,

why else would this foreigner come to a place like this,

when will the wedding be,

daughter of local businessman

gallant knight from Scandinavia,

it will be a spectacle the likes of which

this community has never seen

and they will live happily ever after.


I want to tell them, “Slow down.” I want to say, "Stop. Don't."


I want to tell them to please, enjoy this summer, full of memories and experience and silly young fun. Laugh. Smile.


Then turn and run away.


Don’t grow up, don’t fight, don't be passionate, don't be lost, don't get married, don't have kids, don't scream, don't cuss, don't scare your children, don't make promises, don't get fat, don't have dreams, don't fail, don't lie, don't hug, don't love, don't die, don't get sick, don't mourn, don't die, do not die, do. not. die.

But.


I also want to live.


So I don’t tell them to stop. I do not say, "Do not."


I watch as this unfolds.

I promise them, “You will make mistakes, and I will write about them.

You will break my heart, and I will forgive you.

You will leave me, and I will be ok.”


So go out of Eden and be fruitful.

Remember that many good things

can come from wicked moments,

some truth from the passing of time.

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