The Dust of an Old Era

I sat at my old high school desk,
smelling the lingering aroma
of another time,
pulling me backward.

My name was still there,
scratched on the inside
next to a crusty old piece
of Bazooka.
Who would have expected it
to still be there?

I closed my eyes and heard
the joys and sorrows
of twelfth grade
(teenage angst still palpable at fifty).
I was lost in memories
of her, my first true love.

I heard her voice
echoing off the
paint-peeled walls
of home room.
If only I could go back
for a season;
just for a moment.

Things seemed simple then, yet
somehow complicated;
Unsure.
I feared this joy would
never last; that I would never feel
love again. Surely all this
would vanish, leaving
nothing but an inkling
of what could have been.

She was twenty-two when
she left for Europe
with our daughter—never coming back,
she said. Leaving me to my
faults and failures.

Did she ever love me?
I wondered.
Probably.
I smiled and
wrote her name on
the filthy top of my
school desk
covered in the
dust of an old era.

© 2019 Steven Barto