In a New Hampshire
tourist trap cave, confused
about which way to turn
by the dim light,
my hammering chest,
and the sudden rubber
in my knees.
I’m not getting
any younger, of course. No
one is, even the kid behind me
who settles against the wall
with obvious impatience,
waiting for me
to move again.
I take another second
and grunt myself through
the crevice someone long ago
joyfully named “Orange Crush.”
I think of soft drinks and R.E.M.
and the Denver Broncos and
what if I have a heart attack here?
Don’t know what that kid would do
if I did. I doubt “Orange Crush”
means the same to him
as it does to me but I’m sure
its meaning would change
forever for him then, becoming
“fat old man expiring before my eyes.”
Fat old man expiring before my eyes,
none of us getting younger, militia flags
on the trucks in the parking lot,
“Blue Lives Matter” T-shirt on the kid,
the Orange Crush in constant redefinition.
Someone once said, “the personal
is political.” Someone once said to me,
“Not everything is political, y’know.” Someone
once said “isn’t it nicer not to talk politics
and just be happy?”
I make it out of the cave into
the light, the view across the valley
into the White Mountains. Someone
named them that, someone who came here
and called them White.
That Someone has sure said a lot of things.
Me? I’m just saying,
I’m suddenly sorry
that was the last cave on the trail.
It was cool in there, and dark, it smelled
as it’s likely smelled since the last Ice Age,
and I didn’t feel like I had
anything to worry about