On Love, Waiting, and Wanting — July, 1967

by Barbara Joseph Jones

On Love, Waiting, and Wanting
July, 1967

I need love, love to ease my mind
I need to find, find someone to call mine
But Mama said

In the knotty pine paneled basement

with the random colored linoleum tiled floor,

I put the 45 rpm Motown disk, purchased the week before

in the record department of S.S. Kresge, 

on the old Motorola record player.

Eight drum beats, a ninth punch — 

and the lyrics begin.

I mouth the words while

mimicking the motions and choreography 

of the fabulous Supremes.

You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said love don't come easy
It's a game of give and take

Upstairs, I hear discord — voices of

fear, anger, tears, and despair

because violence has shattered Detroit. 

My father's grocery store is now littered with

shattered glass, empty bottles, cans, and boxes

strewn across the old wooden floors, the same floors 

where my grandfather paced for 16 hours a day.

But how many heartaches must I stand
before I find a love to let me live again?
Right now the only thing that keeps me hangin' on
When I feel my strength, yeah, is almost gone
I remember Mama said

Diana Ross' sweet voice, while Flo and Mary echo

the yearning; a crescendo of strength.

The rhythm surges, pounding.  And I, 

swaying with the Phantom who holds me, 

magically become enveloped in a perfect love,

born out of patience and an innocent heart.

You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
She said love don't come easy
It's a game of give and take

The next day,

In the grassy lot next to the school,

we practice our cheers with precision and pep. 

I pretend the captain of the football team 

will notice me at the first game.

Through his face mask he will see

my smile and hear my cheers for victory.

How cute I look in my short blue skirt with the yellow pleats!

Atfer, at the sock hop, a fantastic tableau:

we will dance to the Supremes, of course.

I will sing every word, because I know them by heart, 

having spun my record until the grooves are deep.

How long must I wait?
How much more can I take?
Before loneliness will cause my heart
Heart to break?

We fall to the ground laughing

as our pyramid crumbles, and then

I hear the rumble of tanks on Woodward Avenue,

crawling toward the Motor City, sent by Johnson

to quell the violence which has engulfed our city.

No more "Go Team!" chants for the day — 

back to the basement to escape what is real,

what will always be real.

No I can’t bear to live my life alone
I grow impatient for a love to call my own
But when I feel that I, I can’t go on
these precious words keep me hangin’ on

At home, in the subterranean coolness, I pull back the player arm,

lifting the needle, gently placing it on my favorite song.

I sing softly; I've mastered my dance moves.

We converse; I am coy (or is it shy?).

My religion tells me,

"Love is patient; Love is kind."

The City is in flames; lives lost, broken, destroyed.

Violently searching for love, oppressed and beaten.

Urgency and the pain of waiting.

You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
you got to trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes

I will listen to the song

over and over and over again,

before it is time to go upstairs

where the windows are open.

Next to my bed, 

the humid July air oozes 

through the screen, 

and the wailing sirens lull me to sleep.

Drowsy with the hope of love,

wanting, wanting it to hurry.

Barbara Jones spent 38 years of her life teaching high school students about the power of the written word. Her main goal (besides teaching them to be critical thinkers and to be specific, damn it!) was to instill in them a love of literature and language. A Detroiter by birth and a lifetime resident of Metro Detroit, she is now retired and enjoying every minute of perfecting the art of doing nothing and spending time with her husband, also a retired teacher, children, and grandchildren.