Friday, December 11, 2009

Harry Reasoner’s Trampoline


In the fifth grade, on summer afternoons
Anita and I used to jump on Harry Reasoner’s trampoline
we would stomp through the woods behind Anita’s house
and emerge in Mr. Reasoner’s back yard
The house was white and rambling
We would pad in bare feet across his paved driveway
and up to the kitchen screen door where we would peer in to find
Reasoners’ housekeeper cooking – she knew what we wanted
She would come to the door in her neat white uniform
nodding her head
and we would ask if we could use the trampoline,
"yes yes, go go" she would smile impatiently
The trampoline was in the front yard surrounded by thick hedges
and shaded by huge old maple trees
When we jumped on it, we could see over the Reasoners’ stone wall
across the road to the stretching green polo field at the Hunt Club
If we turned to our left and jumped we could see over the hedge
and observe Mr. Reasoner’s driveway entrance
If we turned to our right and jumped we could see the neighbor’s pool
So we would scramble on to the trampoline
find our spots and begin
There was a rhythm that we would have to find
so we would start to jump
slowly and low, being careful not to catapult each other by landing
slightly before or after which always created a jolt through our legs
Then the rhythm would arrive and we would go higher and higher
into the green of the maple leaves and we would begin to turn
in the air – the polo field would appear and we would see someone
riding a white pony across it
Anita would jump high and tuck her long body together
so that she cannon-balled into the trampoline and
pop up again to land on her feet – not missing a beat
I would roll and spin and spy the neighbor’s pool
flashing blue and cool with nothing but a beach ball
floating on its surface – the water abandoned for the afternoon
We would raise our arms and laugh
and talk about everything
as we rose and fell and tried new contortions
to find new ways that we would hit and then be bounced
And then Mr. Reasoner’s limo would turn into the drive
Black and long and empty
except for a driver who did this drive everyday
As we jumped we would spin
back toward the house to spot Mr. Reasoner
exiting the house with his white hair and his thin body,
sometimes carrying a brief case
He would slide into the limo and it would drive just a little too fast
round the driveway circle and
back up towards us and the stone gate to the road
We could see Mr. Reasoner in the back with his reading lamp on
and we would wave to him
Sometimes he would see us,
sometimes his head was bent
already reading his notes for the evening news
I wondered if he was talking in his "news" voice to the limo driver,
trying out the news of the day to see how it sounded
Or did he keep it
all inside until he was infront of the cameras and America?
The sun would begin to sink lower and cast long shadows
out across the polo field
and Anita and I would be so tired from laughing
and bumping up and down that we would finally quit
We would head home to the smells of dinner cooking and the sound
of Mr. Reasoner on the television.

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