Valentine’s Day

posted in: Memoir, Poetry | 0

Young love at any age, with work by Diana La Com, Sherman Pearl and Nancy Davidoff Kelton.
6 minutes


On this edition, some pieces appropriate to Valentine’s Day.

Diana La Com said that this next poem “grew out of a memory of an exasperating sewing task, which my father took over. He loved precision, and made it work. I loved the dress and wore it with pleasure until my boyfriend ended its life and I became his wife.” “The Striped Dress.”

I’m sixteen, squatting
on the floor with a dress pattern.
The diagonal stripes won’t match.
My father takes it from me,
measures and calculates,
and cuts,
goes into the kitchen,
spreads steak tartare on crackers.
Miraculously the stripes match.
I sew,
turn around,
and round in the mirror
as he watches,
the vibrant stripes spinning dizzily.

Giddy with pleasure at how beautiful I am,
I hear the honk of my boyfriend’s convertible.
We soar through the streets,
the wind blowing my hair and my skirts.
He is tossing firecrackers over my head.
One lands in my lap,
blowing a hole
in my beautiful dress.
I marry him anyway.

“The Striped Dress,” Diana La Com from Passager’s 2013 Poetry Contest.

Next, Sherman Pearl’s poem “Dance of the Ages,” also from Passager’s 2013 Poetry Contest.

Each step carries you back a few years;
keep dancing.
Swirl those hips, roll your shoulders
till time forgets
how to hobble you. It’s been ages
since we danced together
but my toes tap out the tunes
and my heart knows all the lyrics.
It beats old rhythms
as you flow around and over and through me.
Dance off the hard times,
dance away from the shadows.
I’ve always been clumsy
with graceful things
but if you crook a beckoning finger
and open your arms
I will dance with you.

Sherman Pearl’s poem “Dance of the Ages.”

After her divorce, Nancy Davidoff Kelton spent quite a while looking for a long-term romantic relationship. That’s the subject of her book Finding Mr. Rightstein. But it finally worked out. Here are some excerpts.

When I appeared, he was talking with my doorman and he didn’t seem to want to stop. The spark that had been in his eyes in his photo was missing. So was he. Obviously, my looks disappointed him.

Walking down Sixth Avenue, he hardly spoke. I filled the space with questions. Creepy ones. About his health and the health of his parents, whether they had cancer or problems with their hearts, and if he ever had a colonoscopy. He hadn’t. I had had a colonoscopy the week before and began describing the prep. Then, sounding like Annie Hall in the terrace scene, I stopped. “Forgive my taking a medical history. I’m nervous, not insane.”

“I’m nervous, too,” he said. “Unlike you, I become mute.” He smiled. “And unlike you, I am insane.”

We turned to each other. Finally.

“I’m sorry for grilling you,” I said. “I thought I should fill up the space.”

“It’s refreshing.” The twinkle in his eyes returned. “You’re checking things out.” He checked me out at dinner, commenting on my energy and skin. We shared appetizers, entrees, and our personal histories.

“You’re easy to talk to,” he said, pushing up the sleeves of his black cashmere V-neck.

. . . My heart did that little flutter thing. “And you have sexy arms.”

I didn’t want the evening to end. I did not want to part. I invited him to the top floor of Kimmel Hall, an NYU building right on Washington Square with spectacular views. Standing beside him taking in the scenery was perfect. Exciting and comfortable at the same time. He put his hand on my shoulder. Easy. Great.

On Saturday afternoon, I called Louise. “I had a date with someone new last night. I want to marry him.”

A pause. Then, “Maybe wait to tell him,” she said. “When’s your next date?”

“I don’t know. He didn’t say anything about getting together again. What if he doesn’t call?”

“I guess you won’t be able to marry him.”

He called an hour later. We had a second dinner the following week on February 13 at Five Points, a lovely East Village restaurant.

. . . Later at Five Points where we had gone on our second date, Jonathan got down on one knee and proposed. I had a hunch this might happen. I’d been asking on a daily basis if and when he’d propose.

I said yes. Of course I said yes. I hugged him hard, not wanting to let go.

“I hope you didn’t propose because of my subtle hinting,” I said.

“I had the idea myself,” he said. “I would have asked you much sooner if you hadn’t nudged.”

. . . I was sixty when I met Jonathan. He was fifty-nine. Finding love at our age — at any age — is grand. The next morning I called Emily. “Jonathan asked me to marry him.” “And . . .”

“I said yes.” We cried.

To buy Nancy Davidoff Kelton’s book Finding Mr. Rightstein or to subscribe to or learn more about Passager and its commitment to writers over 50, go to You can download Burning Bright from Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts and various other podcast apps.

For Kendra, Mary, Christine, Rosanne, and the rest of the Passager staff, I’m Jon Shorr.

Due to the limitations of online publishing, poems may not appear in their original formatting.