Over fifty years ago I was awakened by the sound

of scritch, scritch, scritch, a sound I never heard before.

I thought it was a dog scratching at the door, but my

sleep-laden eyes beheld a brand new girlfriend with

long brown hair cascading down her naked back.

When I hear that familiar sound these mornings,

I’m reminded of the summer of ’55 when my uniform

was newly shed; we met as camp counselors for troubled

kids who threw rocks at each other, wet their beds

and flapped their arms in glee, tarnished angels on the wing.

We’d head North on our one day a week off

searching for auctions of farms that once flourished.

We collected ironstone pitchers and bowls for a dime

or a quarter, agateware, hobblekickers. sickles and scythes,

hogscrapers, worn flails, milking stools, crocks and pails,

baling hooks, ladderback Shaker chairs,

and an Empire couch for eight bucks stuffed with horse hair,

upended in my ’50 convertible Chevy, stored

in the basement of my future mother-in-law.

We’d turn back the clock in a sepia dream in the stillness

of twilight at the dilapidated Pine Plains Hotel on the Old

Post Road, doing dress ups like kids in vintage clothes

smelling of mothballs we’d scored in an old steamer trunk.

With a high hat for me and a Moon Bonnet for her we

waltzed on the wide pine plank floor as Al Jolson sang

on a wind up Victrola: “Oh, how we danced on the night

we were wed…”

We savored a bottle of Chateau Neuf Du Pape,

flopped into bed as our bodies fell into place

fitting together in perfect alignment like celestial

bodies doing their thing when its time to eclipse.

Lifted aloft to Elysian Fields I thought I heard Harpo

strumming his harp and a hallelujah chorus sing

“not alone, not alone, not alone, any more.”

Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St. Leonia, N.J. 07605