Ron Gilson’s Talk
The other night I went to hear Ron Gilson
speak about his youth on the docks of Gloucester.
Each moment he recalled burst with the excitement
and awe of more than 60 years before.
It was clear that those years were not now just
pleasant recollections; they were the anchor
to which his life was made fast, and around which
all events circled as the tide flowed and ebbed.
At one point, as Ron searched for the precise way
to describe the mood, sights and sounds of those days,
his voice got tight, he hesitated and tears came.
At last, he declared: “Moving. That’s what it was. Moving.”
Those who were lucky enough to have had
happy, adventurous and exciting childhoods
were brought back to our own dear early years,
as if by the pull of an anchor taking hold.
Some of us took long hikes in the dark woods,
sidestepped copperheads, climbed nearby mountains,
swam unsupervised in unpolluted creeks,
helped out mornings on our grandparents’ farm,
went on long bike rides to unexplored places,
held secret meetings at the old train station,
built soapbox cars to race wildly down the steepest
hill and carefully walked across the railroad tressle
thirty feet above the jagged rocks on our way
to the rope swing high above the Rondout
where, later, we went fishing and gave the eels to
Mr. Annapple and brought home the sunfish, bass and perch.
We spent the nights around the fire, roasted corn
borrowed from the nearby field, told scary stories,
discovered the planets, and galaxies
and discussed things you would not believe.
Ron Gilson spoke to the universal child.
He opened wide the doors we had peeked through,
but had not entered and implored us to visit.
Moving. That’s what it was. Moving.