Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Finally, this morning my legs felt normal again. It's only taken two full days to recover from Saturday's weeding frenzy. As I stood in front of the sink this morning thinking about how age creeps insidiously up on you, I was reminded of Emily Dickinson's poem about hope, the "feathered thing that perches in the soul." Age, I thought, is more the slinky thing that settles in your lower back. And as I showered, a poem started in my head.

Now, it is a wonderful thing to finally have a place to put these random creations that spew occasionally from my brain. But of course, they often look less like genius in the cold light of the computer screen. (It wasn't until I finished this that I looked up the "Hope" poem and realized it's only 3 stanzas long!) As I blunder into my 50th line of verse, Dickinson's lovely, inspiring rhyme scheme seems to devolve into an insipid singsong, but no matter--I bravely offer you the following:

Age, the faceless creature
That sneaks up from behind.
It takes over your body
As it tries to rule your mind.

Where you were strong, you find you're weak,
Where fast, you find you're slow,
And you stop to search your mind to find
The things you used to know.

Your eyes decide they'd rather see
Things not quite so near,
And your worries start to circle 'round
Strange new things that you fear,
Like heart attacks and cancers
Of the colon and the breast.
The doctor reads your numbers
And is really unimpressed.

College students seem like babes
Were news anchors always young?
To watch the entertainment news
Is to hear a different tongue.
Celebrities--they rise so fast to become household names,
You're not sure if you should care or not
When they spiral down in flames.

You start to slow, you fall behind,
You watch the young horde go
To higher hills and further realms
And deep inside you know
You may have passed the highest peak
Of physical finesse;
Gone are the days when you could find
Delight in your undress.

And yet the thing with feathers
Still perches in your soul
Resisting age's blandishments
And worry's timeless toll.

It keeps intact a child's way
Of looking at your days,
Insisting that you stop and see the thousand different ways
That time has brought you wisdom, and a chance to feel the peace
That descends when you stand still enough;
A soft and downy fleece.

It seems that youth is full of wants,
Of need and of desire,
And as we age, this slowing down
Brings meaning to "retire."
For in the French, this selfsame word
Means simply "to withdraw."
To pull back from the crazy push
Of society's great brawl.

Today I know it's not what I have
That makes my days complete.
Instead, I find that what I've done
Gives my heart its fullest beat.
I value more the memories
Of trips I've made afar
Than the art upon my walls or pennies in my jar.

The things I want my niece to know
Are not in numbers bound
But in the quiet sunrise
And the smallest creatures found,
In the satisfied reminders
Of people that you've known;
Connections made, laughs and jokes
Stick deep inside your bones.

I may still find some small regret
In stepping to the side,
But I smile in a knowing way
At youth's loud hue and cry.
Someday, they too may finally learn
There are no points to gain,
But patience and a sense of zen
Make up for all life's pain.

Epilogue: I've just noticed that I've used the word "insidious" to describe both age and Bermuda grass. I'll have to ponder if there are any meaningful conections to be made here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for dropping by--please share your thoughts!

"Every time we get comment mail, Rosie wags her tail!" (Seriously, you should see that puffy thing go.)