Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
I hadn't noticed that old drunkard sitting next to me
In that dim bar so oddly named 'The Memory of Marie'
Until a gnarled and wrinkled hand gently tapped on mine
And breath filled up the atmosphere with smells of day-old wine.
"You may be wondering", he said, "just how this barroom came
To be the dump that it is now with such a haunting name.
In younger days the lights shone bright,laughter filled the air
And , if you fill my glass with wine, I'll tell you, if you care."
Drunks do not appeal to me, but something in his style
Made me think that, possibly, his words could be worthwhile
And, having nothing else to do but watch my life pass by,
I had his glass replenished and I watched him drink it dry.
"Let me pose a question, sir. Please answer if you can
The avenue that you would choose, a decent, honest man
If you were standing in my shoes those many years ago.
It will not change a blessed thing but I'd just like to know."
"Let's suppose the sweetest woman ever in your life
Made a vow that she would be your ever-faithful wife,
And let's suppose that Heaven smiled the way it smiled on me
The day the angels blessed me with my beautiful Marie."
"She made my life a ferris wheel - she filled me with a joy
That gave me cause to call it love that nothing could destroy.
I built the place we're sitting in for all the world to see
The neon sign upon the roof that lit my life - MARIE."
And then one day, the bubble burst. One day the mail came.
Within it was a letter sent to one specific name.
Emblazoned on the envelope, alive with mystery,
The letters of the girl I loved..addressed to my Marie.'
"I don't know how but I was sure as I was standing there
The penmanship was masculine and screamed the word "AFFAIR!"
The choices laying in my hand were obvious to me -
Open it or leave it and say nothing to Marie."
"Affairs are temporary roads a decent woman may
Venture on until the time the newness wears away,
But, in the end, true love would win and, when the thrill had died,
I knew that my belov'd Marie would be back at my side."
"But male pride ruled in the end and, with a trembling hand,
I read the words of love undying from another man,
And, in a fit of fire and rage within my agony,
I screamed the words of hatefulness that cost me my Marie."
"My question is a simple one", he said with quiet voice.
"With that same situation pending, which would be your choice?
Faced with that dilemma staring, which would you find better...
Contenting yourself with what you have, or opening the letter?"
The old man didn't wait for me; instead, without "goodnight"
He got down quickly from the stool and hurried out of sight.
The last I saw was his bent form held up by shaking knees
Scurrying quite quickly from 'The Memory of Marie's.
The years passed quickly. I forgot the old man and Marie's
Until, one day, the memory came screaming back at me.
Almost, as if the gods were laughing with a wild derision,
I found myself encountered by that very same decision!
I know, by looks, I seem to be a bum perched on a stool,
Rambling with thickened tongue words spoken like a fool,
But since you've made my wine glass full, I'll pose it now to you.
Faced with that decision, stranger, tell me what you'ld do.
Content yourself with what you have, or view with opened eyes,
Events which could do nothing more than hurt or criticize?
I'm not sure what you would do, which choice you would find the better
But, as for me, I wish to God I'd never read that letter!