Nearing Menopause, I Run into Elvis at Shoprite by Barabra Crooker

A couple of weeks ago I attended my Douglas College alumnae luncheon and met a poet from a different graduating class. Per my request, she sent me this poem on menopause that I love from her book Radiance. Thanx, Barbara! (Posted both on my Home Page and in Poetry/Quotes/This’nThat.)

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.

from Radiance (Word Press, 2005), available from AmazonĀ 

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