Thursday, November 18, 2010

George and Henry: Parallel Lives

by H.C. Klingman

Born on separate continents,
fate’s magnet drew
us to common destiny,
to share rich experience,
and sublime discoveries
in old world cultures.
Mundanities scuttled,
we enjoyed new lives
assayed for existential gold.

In immigrant alleys we,
big city smart-alecs,
ripened to a strong America
that took us, still striplings,
to combat alien evil.
And we, almost-warriors,
lived near-death horrors,
smarting wounds suffered
for tin medals soon
put aside to prepare
for postwar dreams;
jobs, family, success.

But first, GI Bill creds
gave keen wannabees,
a trampoline bounce
to higher rungs
of career ladders.
Climbing nimbly, we left
for new contests abroad,
this time as Praetorians
of American commerce;
to Europe where our stars met
in Zurich’s Alpine City.

Allemanic and Hibernian
gestalts are different forms
but ours touched
and became fellowship,
bonding warmly
over shared interests
and stimulating talk,
probing, revealing,
challenging, never dull.
Outgrowing heritage,
we cracked the
old ancestral molds
and lived America’s dream. Abroad.

We reigned as Princes
of merit, not of blood,
with emoluments
and perks unknown
to stateside guys
who thought we toiled
in hardship’s garden, while
they thrived on native soil.
(Fools! We were in Paradise.)

We two. Friends.
Bulls of the same herd
tossing our horns
to show our stuff… let
‘em see all’s well
with us on guard.
Sleek and proud,
we snorted warnings
when envious poachers
eyed our turf.

Men of equal mind
and power will compete,
and we two (lefties),
jousting in mock combat,
played games with
verve and gusto,
hailing victories
and life’s milestones
with memorable vintages,
rare elixirs consecrated
by Gallic sun,
our souls in communion
with holy Cortons,
or Chambertins, still
lingering on palate’s memory
as a shameless symbol
of opulence past..

Partners in expatriate civics
and community causes.
We jogged, golfed,
played chess and cards,
with intensity, bonding
with pride and delight.
Much still remains
of those days and months,
even as the glorious tapestry
of our prime years fades.

Back then, fine soirees,
sparkling nights with
you and Doris hosting,
creating pleasure
at your hillside villa,
seducing us with epicurean
secrets of food and drink.
Convivial times as
we vacationed together
in laughter and ease
living the high station
of imported royalty.

Our ups and downs
a male thing
from perceived challenges;
proud egos magnifying
faint threats.
even those, just echoes
of pawing hooves,
virile reflexes
marking territory;
the struggle for
the strong “I” of youth.
That came and went,
but so much survived;
affection, admiration,

So, with good will abounding,
we converge again as two ships,
retired from long voyages abroad.
riding calmy in safe anchorage.
Our rites of passage, though
indelibly logged in our minds, fade slowly
in history. We were at the helm during rough seas and smooth sailing, and
surrendered command, and its privileges
with much regret, to begin life anew.

We navigated to our home port,
enriched by journeys into other worlds.
Now, in common space, no longer urged
to exalt our deeds, carrying the old mantle,
renewed friendship is celebrated
by honoring shared ideas,
and thoughts annealed
by worldly wisdom,
recalling lives finely lived
in the best of times.