Charles Harper Webb: "Restless Leg Syndrome"



Once I thought that restless legs were good:
        sure-footed legs that bounced me to the best
                trout streams, stretched doubles into triples

and the All Star team.  Restless legs
        tugged me to where green jungle, turquoise sea,
                white sand, and black lava

made other colors sigh—like Jeff Beck, hearing
        Hendrix play guitar—“Hell, I give up.”
                Elvis had restless legs.  Mick Jagger, too. 

And Bach, stomping the pedals of his pipe-organ
        to make wine for the ears.  God breathed
                into Pat Boone’s legs only a thin wheeze

of the inspiration to sing “Tutti Frutti.” 
        Still, when Pat crooned “April Love,”
                my pre-teen legs twitched to flee

with Candy Sanders to Maui, where I could pick,
        for free, “her first bouquet.”  The world
                seemed huge; how could I run out

of room?  How could my legs run me
        head-on into Fall, where even Law sings,
                "April love is for the very young.  Only!”? 

The old are like Victorian women, hearing,
        “Sexual pleasure . . ,” Jews in 1930,
                hearing, “Harvard . . , ” Blacks hearing,

in 1945, “The Major Leagues, this hotel,
        the front of this bus are not for you.” 
                Where would we be if some legs didn’t

yell, “Me too”?  How can I go gently
        into that good night, legs kicking just
                as desperately as young legs do?


Charles Harper Webb's latest book, What Things Are Made Of, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2013.  Recipient of grants from the Whiting and Guggenheim foundations, Webb teaches Creative Writing at California State University, Long Beach.