My father – Winston H. Cushman – died early in January 1980. In Arizona. He was 68 years old. During these succeeding 38 years this question has come to, or for, me every so often – Will I live longer than 68? Longer than my Dad? Or will that be my due date too? Today I have the answer.
It was 1949 in New Bedford, MA, when I came on the scene. Seven years later I rolled, part-way through the year, into second grade at the Pilgrim Elementary School in Wareham — my hometown. I have a poem about Allen Ginsberg and me and second grade in my first published book of poetry, “Minor Revelations”.
Why wasn’t I reading Allen Ginsberg in 1956 when he was writing “America”
and I was in second grade,
Elementary, a pilgrim at Pilgrim?
Not yet reading Weekly Reader
Not yet swooning over Mary Linda
Not yet floating like a butterfly and stinging like a marshmallow
Out on recess playground
Not yet a Red Sox advocate (it’s coming) and sufferer (soon)
Not yet a political giant
Not yet crossing the race barrier
Not yet finding my howl
Not yet bunting magic bunts with my magic little league lumber
(there’s gold in them thar trees)
Not yet a bedroom boss, a bedroom baby,
a bedroom blue boy
Not yet so perpetually confused about the things I’m sure of.
I’m sure Allen would have helped,
Garden State fairy angel,
With all of my life’s poetry,
Held my metaphorical hand on endless walks with bigger daydreams
and a bigger heart.
Why’d I have to wait til now?
It’s a good question. About the waiting. My first sponsor — Dick M. — always told me, when I came to him moaning about this or that, he’d say, “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.” I can’t say I always appreciated those words as an answer, but as I’ve aged I’ve come to believe more in possibilities. I guess I started getting A.G. and poetry in general when I was supposed to. Anyway, I turned 69 today and I’ve just published poetry book number two – “Dictation from the Backyard” — and I’ve managed to hang around a little longer than my Dad now, which feels more like obligation than anything else.
Expect poetry from me going forward.