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Barbara Crooker: Nearing Menopause, I Run Into Elvis At Shoprite,

near the peanut butter.  He calls me ma’am, like the sweet

southern mother’s boy he was.  This is the young Elvis,

slim-hipped, dressed in leather, black hair swirled

like a duck’s backside.  I’m in the middle of my life,

the start of the body’s cruel betrayals, the skin beginning

to break in lines and creases, the thickening midline.

I feel my temperature rising, as a hot flash washes over,

the thermostat broken down.  The first time I heard Elvis

on the radio, I was poised between girlhood and what comes next.

My parents were appalled, in the Eisenhower fifties, by rock

and roll and all it stood for, let me only buy one record,

“Love Me Tender,” and I did.

       I have on a tight orlon sweater, circle skirt,

       eight layers of rolled-up net petticoats, all bound

       together by a woven straw cinch belt.  Now I’ve come

       full circle, hate the music my daughter loves, Nine

       Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Crash Test Dummies.

       Elvis looks embarrassed for me.  His soft full lips

       are like moon pies, his eyelids half-mast, pulled

       down bedroom shades.  He mumbles, “Treat me nice.”

Now, poised between menopause and what comes next, the last

dance, I find myself in tears by the toilet paper rolls,

hearing “Unchained Melody” on the sound system.  “That’s all

right now, Mama,” Elvis says, “Anyway you do is fine.”  The bass

line thumps and grinds, the honky tonk piano moves like an ivory

river, full of swampy delta blues.  And Elvis’s voice wails above

it all, the purr and growl, the snarl and twang, above the chains

of flesh and time. 

Copyright 2005 Barbara Crooker. From Radiance (Word Press, 2005).     

Barbara Crooker’s many books include Some Glad Morning (Pitt, 2019).


Source: The Current

11 comments on “Barbara Crooker: Nearing Menopause, I Run Into Elvis At Shoprite,

  1. Noelle Canin
    February 7, 2023

    Barbara, I have a clear memory of sitting on the neighbor’s stone wall and listening to Elvis and the Beatles – and then before I could blink, menopause was there! A different rhythm entirely, so I blend it into dance and into poems. Love your poem! Thank you for a gorgeous memory…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marilyn Banner
    February 7, 2023

    Your poetry never gets old. My birthday, 78!, is coming up March 30. My aunt took me to see Elvis on the very night of my 13th birthday!! We sat in the front row of Kiel Auditorium in StLouis. Elvis sang Dont Be Cruel. … i can sing it in my mind as I write. The whole audience went crazy screaming for a long time and I lost my voice for days.
    Thank you so much ……..🙏‼️


    • barbaracrooker
      February 7, 2023

      Thanks, Marilyn! Gosh, we’re the same age; I’d forgotten this– Lucky, lucky you, seeing Elvis in person!


  3. Mary B Moore
    February 6, 2023

    What a recollection, Barbara! The sublime voice among the peanut-butter jars, the layers of crinolines, the sadly expanded mid-line. I’m there for the whole lovely ride.


    • Vox Populi
      February 6, 2023

      I’m there too, Mary!


    • barbaracrooker
      February 7, 2023

      Thanks, Mary!


    • barbaracrooker
      February 7, 2023

      Thanks! Those crinolines were something else on gym day!


  4. Rose Mary Boehm
    February 6, 2023

    What a wonderful poem, Barbara! I was with you there in that store. I wore those petticoats, the latest fashion in clothes and music that came to Europe from the US of A. And my mother was apalled. Sometimes it seems only yesterday – our ‘revolution’.


  5. SeN Sexton
    February 6, 2023

    Lovely, Headed out on the same boat!
    Me and you and Blue Hawaii!


    • Vox Populi
      February 6, 2023

      Thanks, Sean!


    • barbaracrooker
      February 7, 2023

      I had a “Blue Hawaii” in Hawaii–was determined to try a different cocktail every night. It was, um, different–


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This entry was posted on February 6, 2023 by in Health and Nutrition, Humor and Satire, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , .

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