Do you notice the background music playing in retail stores? I rarely do and am still surprised when my husband of more than 30 years comments on the particulars of what was playing after we leave. I am grateful to Ron Koertge for hearing the music in his favorite market and capturing his feelings in today’s poem, “Elder Care.” It made me smile and want to dance and reminded me that the right music, like the right poem, can lift our mood and change our perspective. See what you think.
My favorite market now has a Seniors First Hour.
The usual soft music designed to make shoppers
browse at their leisure has been replaced by
Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time”
and Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion.”
If we don’t follow Eva’s advice to the letter
and “make a chain now,” we do move a little faster
like robbers in our masks and gloves while a bearded
man waits in the parking lot with the motor running.
I’m considering some sad bananas when on
comes the “Peppermint Twist” by Joey Dee
and the Starliters. Some of us start to smile.
We sway above our sturdy shoes. We inch closer
with our carts. Just a little. In case somebody
even under the circumstances wants to forget
why we’re here and dance.
Here are video clips of the three songs mentioned in the poem. Warning: watching may result in spontaneous dancing.
“Elder Care” is from Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, edited by Alice Quinn, released in hardcover November 2020 and available now in e-book format. It’s a thoughtful snapshot of the early months of Covid-19. The title is from Pablo Neruda’s “Keeping Quiet,” which contains the lines “we would all be together/in a sudden strangeness.”
“Elder Care” by Ron Koertge, Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic, edited by Alice Quinn, 2020. Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes.
Photo: “Dance like no one’s watching” Canadian Mental Health Association