I WANT TO LIVE LIKE HEMINGWAY
by Richard Allen Taylor
for a year or two, at least. So I go with you to Spain ,
we see a pretty senorita dance on the table, we drink sangria,
hear the clatter of the lady’s heels, the raucous
strumming of guitars, old men clapping the rhythm.
Or we take a boat from Lauderdale, go sailing in the Keys,
drink a toast to the moonlit wake behind us, sing a song
to the sea. The night wind balloons us. We search
the islands for the world’s best margarita.
Feeling historic, we pan for gold in California ,
in floppy hats and khakis, faces muddy as boots.
We find 24-karat April sky, earth the color of salmon,
purple shadows below the mountains.
The Appalachians entice us. We follow ancient footpaths,
high above the fog rising from the hollows. My foot slips,
you catch my hand and keep me from falling,
as you always have.
Now you refuse to let me die like Hemingway. You sit
by me for this modern hospital death with needles and tubes,
machines recording my last breath, final heartbeat,
electronic obituary. Forgive me for waiting
until now, today, this very moment, to go with you to Spain ,
explore the Keys, walk the mountains or pan for gold, but I am proud
to say, I trusted you with my life, and here you are again,
catching my hand as I fall, still holding on.
Author’s Commentary: is a confluence of several ideas that have significance for me: adventure, love, and death. The yearning for adventure is symbolized by Hemingway, a romantic figure who did all kinds of things that “normal” people only dream of. I’d love to go to Spain , or any number of faraway places, but seem to have sacrificed that notion in order to stay home and save for retirement. I definitely do not want to die like Hemingway, and the alternative—the second idea—is the “modern hospital death” both my parents had. The third is the love story we all want, and I’ve been fortunate in that regard. So, I guess the message is, take your sweetie on that dream trip before it’s too late. When I read this poem in public, I like to ham it up a bit, reading the last stanza in the faltering voice of a dying man.
Bio: RICHARD ALLEN TAYLOR ( Charlotte , NC ), former co-editor of Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, is the author of Something to Read on the Plane (Main Street Rag 2004) and Punching Through the Egg of Space (Main Street Rag 2010). His poems have appeared in Rattle, Iodine Poetry Journal, Ibbetson Street, South Carolina Review, Referential Magazine, Redheaded Stepchild, The Powhatan Review, and The Main Street Rag, among others.