by Walt Dudley


Wake-Up Call

I woke the other morning, early,
sometime after five o'clock,
sometime before six,
and sensed something in the air—
not a smell, but more than a feeling—
something familiar.

Slowly, I rolled from the warmth of my quilt
only to be greeted by nuances of getting older.

As I wheeled, naked, into the living room,
a sepia haze, perhaps an aura,
seemed to overwhelm the yard and the house and the room.

Then through the half-opened Venetian blinds
I noticed the sun nudging its way over the neighbor's roof.

I reached up to raise the blinds—
but stopped for fear of desecrating something sacred—
that familiar.

Sitting there, covered only by the stillness,
I felt foolish and unholy.
A mourning dove cooed;
finally, a discernible familiar.

A loud thud from out near the front made me jump.
Instantly, I checked every direction of the compass,
then remembering my nakedness, sped to the bedroom.
After wriggling into the first available garment—
the pair of blue jockey shorts I'd dropped
on the floor the night before—
I gathered what courage I could find and went to investigate the unfamiliar.

I eased the front door open—first an inch, then two.
Seeing only that the newspaper had missed its mark,
I moved bravely into the chilly morning air
to retrieve the local gossip.

Out on the verandah, my hands found the balustrade.
Steadied against some immigrant-carpenter's handiwork,
I drew myself to a full stand.

The undeniable urge came over me;
feet planted, I reached high—then higher.

Suddenly, like a feather's touch to my bare ribs,
like the bouquet of new wine to my nose,
the familiar hit me:

Summer Bible camp, thirty-five years ago,
a crisp June morning, the air golden and wet.

It had rained the night before—
and for a moment,
I was born again, made whole.


© 2001 Walt Dudley


WALT DUDLEY is the editor of “WE’re THE PEOPLE, Too: Tales from America’s Largest Minority,” available in bookstores or online at ChampionPress.com, Amazon.con, and Barnesandnoble.com.
Walt's "Where Did They Go? For All The Boys I Loved Before" appears in this issue of BENT as well.


BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/September 2001