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Kissing Carol Ann - Poem by Donal Mahoney

Back in 1957
kissing Carol Ann
behind the barn
in the middle of
a windswept field
of Goldenrod
with a sudden deer
watching was
something special,
let me tell you.
Back then, bobby sox
and big barrettes
and ponytails
were everywhere.

Like many farmers,
Carol Ann's father
had a console radio
in the living room,
and every Saturday night
the family would gather 'round
with bowls of ice cream
and listen to the Grand Ole Opry.
It was beamed 'all the way'
from Nashville I was told
more than once since
I was from Chicago
and sometimes wore a tie
so how could I know.

On my first visit,
I asked Carol Ann
if the Grand Ole Opry was
the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
of country music and she said
not to say that to her father.
She suggested I just tap
my foot to the music
and let him watch me.
Otherwise I'd best be
quiet and say 'Yup, '
'Nope' or 'Maybe'
if asked any questions
which she didn't think
would happen.
No need to say
much more, she said,
and after a few visits,
I understood why.

Over time, I learned
to tap my foot pretty good
to the music because
when I'd come to visit,
her father would insist
I have a bowl of ice cream
with the family.
I liked the ice cream
but not so much
the Grand Ole Opry.
I'd been weaned
on Sinatra in the city.
Big difference,
let me tell you.

But back in 1957
kissing Carol Ann
behind the barn
was something special
since we couldn't do
much more until
I found employment.
Only then, her father said,
could we get married.
I found no jobs
in town, however,
for a bespectacled man
with degrees in English.

Still, I always found
the weekend drives
from Chicago worth
the gas my Rambler drank
because kissing Carol Ann
brought a bit of heaven
down behind that barn,
especially on summer nights
when fireflies were
the only stars we saw
when our eyes
popped open.
It was like
the Fourth of July
with tiny sparklers
twinkling everywhere.

Now,55 years later,
Carol Ann sometimes mentions
fireflies at dusk as we
dance behind the cows
to coax them into the barn
for the night.
I'm still not too good
with cows despite
my John Deere cap,
plaid shirt and overalls
which proves, she says,
that all that kissing
behind the barn in 1957
took the boy out of the city
but not the city out of the boy.

'Hee Haw' is all I ever
say in response because
I know why I'm there.
It's to keep tapping
the cows on the rump
till we get them
back in the barn
so we can go back
in the house
and start with
a kiss and later on
come back downstairs
for two big bowls
of ice cream.

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