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Gary Duehr

             The Sixties


Listen up to British novelist L. P. Hartley:

The past is like a foreign country.

Or is a foreign country

Like the past?  Think England, circa 1960.

The air feels older. The clothes,

The color of the sky, the shadows

Stretched out from the trees—they all look soft.

As does this gravel path, the way the light falls off

Its crumbling edge. As if a photograph

Has muted over time. Don’t laugh.

This family could be mine.

Or yours, ambling in the park. How they’re all trying

To have some fun: a bike, a tennis racket,

A sunny afternoon. They’re backlit

As the five of them (Mom and Dad, the kids) approach the camera lens,

Half-smiling, in a line. You sense

That nothing could go wrong inside this scene.

Jump forward 50 years. What does it mean

When everything around you shifts? When every open field

Could be a target for a nuke, its deadly yield?

Imagine now a terrifying flash

That fixes each of them, like Pompeii effigies, in ash.  

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