That August morning forty years ago
in Wisconsin, we six mismatches,
refugees, and orphans piled into Linny¹s
Chevy Nova with no food, no change
of clothes, almost no money, though lots
of reckless, desperate, spontaneous
youth, and drove all night to upstate New York,
where, becalmed in traffic to Yasgur¹s farm,
we joined a seven-mile foot caravan,
passed joints, drank jug wine laced with only
God knows what, got separated, rained on,
and didn’t find each other again
until it was over. For three days we lived
hand to mouth on whatever came to us,
got lost, got found, befriended others who were
wandering. The first night I shared a tarp
with some Philly hippies, the second an
Army surplus tent with a girl from a New
Hampshire commune, her feet dirtier than mine.
Our movie stood in awe of its own soundtrack:
Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone,
the Who, fringed Daltry twirling his mike like some
golden god of the dawning Woodstock nation.
When on Monday morning Hendrix blasted
his scorched reveille, we found ourselves still standing,
victors in some improbable battle,
though it might have ended differently
had a particular Pennsylvania state trooper
known two kids in the car were underage.
(One whiff of our gear and he hastened us
on without searching the trunk where our stash
lay swaddled in debris of the pilgrimage.)
Straggling back to tell the tale to small-
town friends—our nerve-endings, it may be, set
permanently tingling—we split up again
and this time didn’t regroup for decades,
though when we did, we understood that each
had in his or her own way smuggled
back home a tiny piece of the Garden.
Now I think, what a crazy, lucky,
right thing it was for us to do.
We didn’t keep our adventure waiting.
We didn’t worry how we¹d get home.
We just jumped in that Chevy Nova
and drove. That time will never come
for us again, though it will last as long
as we need it to, the rest of our lives.
For Linny, Leo, David, Carol, and Mike