Dolly’s life and my life proceeded apace, anyway,
but only since 1996 overlapping at her prairie cafe.
She was only thirty when the former operator quit
the lease, held so long patrons forgot “before Bill.”
At sixty years, I only ate, without talent as a cook.
One thing I know for sure, thirty years of separation
tends to bar sentimental talk between contemporaries.
But, I fancy how hand in hand lives shared would go
when the farmer at the crossroad was Bud, not his son;
when the statehouse financed education, not a deficit;
when deputies’ sirens led weddings, not returning dead.
I’m eighty now. Dolly’s a heck of a bundle at fifty. But
Dolly makes late life dear, a peal on an anvil, a crucible,
my hammer to harden steel by day, a model of friendship
by evening; a pal ready with buckwheat cakes all the time.