A Thirty Year Prophecy

by David Kramer


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Providence, RI 1986

Caressing the still visible pinkish line with its sixteen stitches,

For thirty years he imagined telling the story to great effect over wine at tables for two.


Slyly he recounted how he had taken a Brown girl inside Sayles Hall. Coaxing her upward,

Climbing a ladder to a musty, nearly dark alcove, sweater breached and bra unhinged.

Suggesting the math classrooms downstairs would be more amenable to their purposes.

The fall, the nail, the glass, the blood. The air cast, the sixteen stitches.


No doubt the gay organist who used the alcove placed a curse.

Because later he would take a RISD girl to the scene of the crime.

This time the organist was booming fugues from the Phantom of the Opera.

Chastened, he offered she go down first.

The fall, the nail, the glass, the blood. The air cast, the seventeen stitches.

Needless to say, the wound was fatal to our budding romance.


He always ended, squinting, that one Campus Dance he planned to take a woman

Back to the second floor of Sayles Hall when on the steps below the window at midnight

The Jabberwocks sang Ever True to Brown.

There and then he would propose.

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Sayles Hall, Brown University

Who knows, it might be a stranger he had just met. An old love back for Reunion Weekend.

It might be you. Curses don’t last forever.


In the afternoon before the Dance, those not wanting to overpay for their liquor

Tape bottles of Tanqueray and Old Bombay underneath their assigned tables.

By 10:30, the bottles are empty and the revelers are back in line paying double prices.

The clear skies above Providence keeping its celestial promise for an evening.

Ever the same twelve thousand people Under the Elms.

Rows of Japanese lanterns making the Green look like a colonial outpost.

The Big Band announcing that happy days are here again.

Dancers dancing as if it were 1955 or 1965 or 1975 or 1985.

Kisses melting time.



Said to be comfortable in his bachelorhood, they had met at the University track one June day.

She was young. Improbably young. Only 28.

They had made love in a Narragansett beach house as the Beavertail Lighthouse

Sent continual beacons of light through the window whose rhythm matched their own.

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Beavertail Lighthouse, Jamestown RI

Somehow he sweet talked her into the Reunion and Dance.

She found his old story clichéd and obvious.

And she was from Manhattan and to her it was just another crowded affair.

And it might rain. And they would have to stay in dorms.


Fifteen minutes before the Jabberwocks were to begin, he went into Sayles alone.

Seeing her in the crowd, tipsily flirting with a circle

Of Class of ‘65ers, he beckoned.

Smiling, laughing, waving back, she returned to the conversation

With a man wearing a hat shaped like the head of a Brown bear

That made him look like a fool.

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Campus Dance 2015Shortly after the Senior Sing at midnight, Brown lit up the sky over the East Side with the final 250th anniversary celebration. Photo by Mike Cohea/Brown University News [Sayles Hall to the right]  
Later back in the Wriston Quad dorm she admitted

She had more fun than expected. The old guys were a hoot when drunk.

Was that him waving? It was dark and hard to see.

Too bad her train left so soon and she couldn’t stay the whole weekend.


David Kramer is a published author, poet and journalist.  He is a professor of English at Keuka College and runs the online magazine, Talker of the Town.