The Boy Who Stayed

My strongest wish – I’ve never thought so hard about it –
this first day of the New Year, 2023, the year I’ll turn 69,
is to touch, next month, the Peter Pan statue in London
and magically go back to a time when I was much younger.
You’d wonder, from what age it is I’d want to start over?

It would be after high school, for certainly I’d not wish
to repeat the prison drudge of class after class after class,
so many of them meaning not too much at all to me.
No, no more of that lock-step 8:00 to 3:30 sentence.

College, yes, I loved my undergraduate days, the first time
I ever fell in love, the last time I was free, all the time,
to read and study what I wanted to learn, by choice,
without worrying about rent and food, and juggling a job.

But if I were to go that far back, I’d have to live through
the M.A. program at the U.W. Madison, a hard No,
for all I learned there about what I’ll never know.

And then there was the West Towne Mall record store,
the second time I fell in love, still wonder about her,
how we never quite got together, I’ll regret forever.

You know, there were great times in high school,
and I even have to say there were bright days
in the U.W. English Department, although very few.

But of all the instants in time, I’d love to go back
to that McDonald’s lunch, the last day in Madison,
before I packed it all in and headed back to Hawai‘i.

Man, if I could have that Filet-o-Fish and fries
with her one more time . . . I can taste it all now.
I was still so young that day, and in some ways my age
was frozen, Peter-Pan-like, in that never-ending moment.

So maybe there’s no need for any kind of magic time travel.
I think I’ll always be that day’s 23-year-old in many ways.

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