Mixed Feelings

from Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975)

        A pleasant smell of frying sausages
	Attacks the sense, along with an old, mostly invisible
	Photograph of what seems to be girls lounging around
	An old fighter bomber, circa 1942 vintage.
	How to explain to these girls, if indeed that’s what they are,
	These Ruths, Lindas, Pats and Sheilas
	About the vast change that’s taken place
	In the fabric of our society, altering the texture
	Of all things in it?  And yet
	They somehow look as if they knew, except
	That it’s so hard to see them, it’s hard to figure out
	Exactly what kind of expressions they’re wearing.
	What are your hobbies, girls?  Aw nerts,
	One of them might say, this guy’s too much for me.
	Let’s go on and out, somewhere
	Through the canyons of the garment center
	To a small café and have a cup of coffee.
	I am not offended that these creatures (that’s the word)
	Of my imagination seem to hold me in such light esteem,
	Pay so little heed to me.  It’s part of a complicated
	Flirtation routine, anyhow, no doubt.  But this talk of
	The garment center?  Surely that’s California sunlight
	Belaboring them and the old crate on which they
	Have draped themselves, fading its Donald Duck insignia
	To the extreme point of legibility.
	Maybe they were lying but more likely their
	Tiny intelligences cannot retain much information.
	Not even one fact, perhaps.  That’s why
	They think they’re in New York.  I like the way
	They look and act and feel.  I wonder
	How they got that way, but am not going to
	Waste any more time thinking about them.
	I have already forgotten them
	Until some day in the not too distant future
	When we meet possibly in the lounge of a modern airport,
	They looking as astonishingly young and fresh as when this picture was made
	But full of contradictory ideas, stupid ones as well as
	Worthwhile ones, but all flooding the surface of our minds
	As we babble about the sky and the weather and the forests of change.