And Then It’s Gone

Recently my parents celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. Nowadays this is quite a feat. But not for them. They were great parents growing up. Took us to country after country instead of hording money or buying stuff they didn’t need. Traveling the world at a young age was the greatest education they could have given us. We saw that not every place was like at home. We saw poverty with our own two eyes. We saw the great cities of Paris and Rome and Berlin and Barcelona. We ate the food of our ancestral forefathers, swam in their lakes and rivers, and we learned that no place is greater than another.

Watching family members and friends attend my parents’ anniversary reminded me of how short and fleeting life is. All these wonderful souls that I grew up with were mostly gone now, memories, ghosts in a slideshow set to music. Yet we all go on and live our lives, because to look behind constantly is to set your mind out of balance.

A poem I wrote many years ago from my unpublished manuscript, “79 Degree Probably of Lose,” says it all. It’s called “In Key West Attics.” Even twenty years ago I could realize how quick and short things really are.

In Key West Attics

In our Bahamian houses, in our ship wrecker mansions,
all of our dreams packed away in boxes up in the attic,
lost and tawny and half-forgotten by the crossbeams;
small things no one else would remember, small things that
are too precious to throw away:

an old JFK and LBJ banner from 1960,
an old Cole Porter album mother got for her birthday,
Cavan crystal packed neatly away,
a copy of Thoreau’s Walden,
fading gouaches line up on the floor one after another,
years in a corner, years in a box, another year over there,
chaos in a scarf from someone you’ve always known,
something over there, another consequence over here,
a piece of paper, some old letters, a trophy, a secret in that
book right in front of you—

the way a moment can sneak up on us and place us a thousand
miles away, the way we are transported for what seems like a
millennium, but really it’s only for this one single second;
and then it’s gone.

Jéanpaul Ferro

Jéanpaul Ferro is the author of Jazz – out now.

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