Is this a poem about a man who wishes he’d never been married? Wants more passion in his marriage? Or just the general wistfulness that comes with old (or even middle-)age, in which we wonder what it would take—or whether anything even exists—that will bring back the feelings we had in our youth, when we never could have imagined staying still in one place for so very long?
Perpetually Attempting to Soar
By Mary Ruefle
A boy from Brooklyn used to cruise on summer nights.
As soon as he’d hit sixty he’d hold his hand out the window,
cupping it around the wind. He’d been assured
this is exactly how a woman’s breast feels when you put
your hand around it and apply a little pressure. Now he knew,
and he loved it. Night after night, again and again, until
the weather grew cold and he had to roll the window up.
For many years afterwards he was perpetually attempting
to soar. One winter’s night, holding his wife’s breast
in his hand, he closed his eyes and wanted to weep.
He loved her, but it was the wind he imagined now.
As he grew older, he loved the word etcetera and refused
to abbreviate it. He loved sweet white butter. He often
pretended to be playing the organ. On one of his last mornings,
he noticed the shape of his face molded in the pillow.
He shook it out, but the next morning it reappeared.