June 30, 2009

Cigarettes and Coffee

The smart woman in the Parade
magazine often runs a contest
where readers send in their
definitions of some phenomenon
whose prime mover is poorly
understood. Often, these contests
arrive with some pun readily employed.

One, which must have run years
ago by now, was about the Theory
of Relativity. As I remember,
all the responses printed
had something to do with inane
familial relationships. There
I was, reading the Sunday
funnies, my mother smoking
cigarettes, and drinking Folgers
coffee. She laughed at how true
one of those replies was. She read it
to me, saying that the theory really was,
“The older you get, the more you
become like your parents.”

Today, while I smoke cigarettes,
and ignore a cup of stale coffee,
I thumb through an old textbook,
looking for the right equations
to help a poem I’m trying to write.
With this act, I wonder how
correct that long ago submission is,
and I wonder
also, “Should I be afraid?”