Alexander’s Time Machine

The telephone is a time machine.
The voice of my friend Albert
from half a continent
and half a lifetime away
comes unbidden to my ear
and twenty five years 
fall from the calandar
like so many autumn leaves
from the scarlet maple
that rules my backyard.
I hear his voice and suddenly
I’m forty pound lighter, not graying
don’t need bifocals and still a virgin.
We’re camping at Old Man’s Cave
drinking contraband beer
by firelight and tree-filtered moonbeams
as midnight comes and goes
and meteors flash across the clearing.

But he went to Arizona,
and I stayed in Ohio.
He’s since given up beer
and I’ve developed interests
apart from, and foreign to, his.

I’ve heard it said that 
your body replaces itself
every eighteen months, more or less.
By that logic there has been
a succession of sixteen men
using my name
who have never met Albert
although they say they remember him.
The ghost of the man that was me
in 1979 still haunts my body.
The descendant of that failed hearing aid
that Alexander was trying to build
links the seventeen of us together again,
and for a sweet moment I’m 22 —
until I hang up
and the years fall back
upon me.

7 April 2004

Copyright 2004, by Steven K. Smith
All rights reserved

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