“Oldguy: Superhero—A Steady Hand” by William Trowbridge

William Trowbridge

OLDGUY: SUPERHERO—A STEADY HAND

When Oldguy spots an old lady waiting
for the light to change, he steps up
and gently takes her arm. On green, he

helps her off the curb and into the street,
remembering his Boy Scout days, when
he earned all the merit badges in a day

and invented some new ones: Missile
Interception, Boulder Shattering, Volcano
Stoppering, Elephant Bench Pressing.

All the Girl Scouts wanted to camp out
with him, stitch up a lanyard or two,
explore the more advanced knots, but

the red phone clamored all the time:
off he’d go to thwart the latest megalomaniac
or suck the air from another hurricane.

He needed a silo to hold his medals. Now,
after he gets the old lady across, she pats
his hand and asks, “Do you need more help?”

from Rattle #51, Spring 2016

[download audio]

__________

William Trowbridge: “I’ve come to see a serious void in the universe of superheroes—whether they’re male or female, foreign or domestic, human or not, they’re all young. Depressingly, inexcusably young. So I’ve created Oldguy to fill this void. When he was Youngguy, he won, among a host of other awards, the Boy Scout merit badge for Elephant Bench Pressing, created in his honor. But with age, he’s lost his super powers and become just old. Nevertheless, he carries on, now fighting evil mainly by means of semi-passive-to-passive resistance, a harmless though peculiar appearance, impaired cognition, and longevity. In the last of these, he’s like my Great-Uncle Al, who said, when asked how he managed to be on earth 93 years and have no enemies, ‘I outlived the sons-a-bitches.’” (website)