What’s become of that bent little man and his trusty ice cream cart? Has anyone seen him? Have you?
How sad summer will be if the kiddies don’t hear his sing-songy “ice cream, three flavors, refreshing ice cream” drawing near in the park.
Each morning from the west. Each afternoon departing. Kids in his wake. Parents and grandparents, too. The squeak of his cart wheels nearly as loud as his voice. “Ice cream, cooling sweet ice cream.”
Where is that Red Sox cap, those tired tennis shoes and faded Hawaiian shirts, his sole pair of pants with the telltale paint stains?
He can’t have lived far, pushing his cart about.
“Dear, watch over the children. I’ll see what I can learn.”
Dreary tenements, their bruised eyes staring blankly—could he have lived here, our ice cream man so meek and tuneful?
The bent ice cream man…do you know him? Have you seen him?
But people shrug, shake their heads full of cares. Ice cream? Nah!
He was old. His cart was old. I’ve grown old, watching my grandkids at play.
Dim alleyways, littered lots. Each day he’d have risen above this, able to smile at the children and sing his brief lines—
There! Upended beside a trash heap: wheel bent, lid hanging askew, ghosts of past summers sighing in its depths, “Ice cream, get your ice cream.”
I right his old cart. It limps. I push it. Eastward. Summer hanging in the balance.
A little paint. A little effort. Tuning the vocal cords to get his inflections just right. “Ice cream. Ice cream. Sweets for your sweeties. Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry—come have some.”
I feel him stirring within me—that little old man with a smile and a tune, bringing back summer, bringing back song.
Let summer steam. Cool sweetness comes singing.