Julia Weinstein Wolfe
During the service, after the mensch acclamation
and before the sermon-sized metaphor
that started with a tree then lost me
a comrade from the morning shift at college--
they shared a lecture hall and the appreciation
that all sleepy students are sleepy in different ways--
quoted John bragging about having the North Grounds pool
all to himself at sunrise. Morning people brag
about their mornings. This morning the lifeguards,
proving they do pay attention to the lives they guard,
have the music tuned to oldies--Sam Cooke crooning
you-ou-ou-ou send me as Sam's fans adjust their goggles.
John, easy to spot in that shameless bathing cap
he claims helps part the waters, takes the lane next to me.
We're standing there praying the water isn't as cold as it is
and waiting for one of us to acknowledge our existence.
One weekend about nine-and-a-half years ago, I flew from Minneapolis, where I live, to Atlanta for a publishing conference. A colleague and I were to make a presentation to the vice-president of one of our major customers.
For a couple of weeks I'd been plagued by a sore throat, but I'd written it off as allergies or a virus. When I tried to begin the presentation, though, all that came out was a squeak. The VP was very sympathetic, and fortunately my colleague was able to handle the meeting.
I flew home that afternoon. The next morning, I saw my primary-care physician, who referred me to a radiologist for a CT scan that very day.
"Do you need help getting undressed?" Jon asks from the doorway of our bedroom, one hand holding his BlackBerry, the other tucked into the front pocket of his baggy jeans. His head is slightly tilted, his eyebrows arched, highlighting his forehead wrinkles.
His phone vibrates, drawing his eyes from me to the incoming message. I wait.
Jon reads, ponders and then looks up, half-absorbed in what he's just read, and registers that I'm still on the bed. His face lights up.
I now have his full attention.
"I think I can manage," I say, "but I may need help with my shirt."