To the college kid, who came into the bank yesterday at noon
striding up to the teller window, all smiles and confidence,
digging your wallet from the back pocket of your tan pants
with the cuffs rolled up just so,
telling the woman behind the counter
I admit it. I cannot manage my money,
asking for a hundred bucks in cash:
You wondered derisively what was playing on the radio,
a child’s plastic radio, yellow and red, angled into a corner,
a radio outgrown and left behind, exchanged, perhaps, for an iPhone
tucked in a pocket.
The teller laughed uncomfortably,
and so did the woman who sat at her desk before me,
staring at the computer screen.
Moments before you came into the bank,
she was talking with me about the high cost of college education
and her hopes
for a scholarship for her daughter.
You went on to say that the music is throw-back eighties, and that
all you could picture was big hair.
The teller laughed again and said you
were probably right and then added an apology: It’s lite rock.
You looked around the bank for an audience, putting
yourself on stage,
perhaps a pedestal,
and said you never knew a musician
who aspired to say he was a lite rock guitarist.
And then you added that you listen exclusively to jazz.
I sat there, my son’s crumpled dollar bills in my hand,
waiting for the computer screen to
unfreeze so I could open his account.
I tried to understand:
Perhaps you saw yourself, twenty years hence,
clicking keys on an adding machine,
staring at a computer screen,
wondering how you would pay for your children’s college.
Perhaps we saw ourselves twenty years ago,
our confidence untempered by time.
Perhaps none of us liked the image
of what we saw, our past and future selves
reflected in the other, each content with our nows
but not with our thens.
I left the bank and headed home, the music playing on.
And I saw that the winter aconites had
confidently opened their faces to the sun,
knowing not the
foibles of humanity.