Oh to be nimble, unfettered and young–– heedless, with yesterday’s breath on my tongue. Scuffed shoes unpolished and hair all awry, with nary a reason for white shirt or tie.
Chucking small stones, shooting rubber bands. Gritty black fingernails, scandalous hands sporting sand from the sandbox or silky black loam from digging for earthworms or sliding on home.
I’d like to be lithesome and agile and spry–– a long life in front of me before I die; but my years are numbered, my life’s nearly over. Gone is my past as a rambler and rover.
I sit on my porch and watch younger men take off for those places I’ve already been; knowing my wild years are too far behind me. I’m an Energizer bunny with no one to wind me.
Maddeningly, although I know I still dream, I forget them the moment my eyes open. Instead, I usually wake up with the first line of a poem on my mind. In this case, I used it as the second line of this morning’s poem.
How cruel of life at end of day
that all of us should fade away,
one head going hoary white,
ready to give up the fight
while all around it, fresher shoots
sturdier and less hirsute
push upward in the dawning morn,
the meadow to freshly adorn.
Careful near the pool edge, careful down the stair.
“Hurry” is disaster’s brand new nom de guerre.
All the things that in the past you might easily dare
are potential dangers hanging in the air;
so don’t stand on a ladder, or even worse, a chair.
It’s different being single than when you were a pair,
for there is no one with you to see how you might fare.
When coming from the pool, be sure the shoes you wear
do not slip upon the tile–this is your worst nightmare.
If your feet are wet and if they’re also bare,
when you plug in your curling rod, I hope that you take care.
Although I know you’ve always been nimble as a hare,
things all change with age. I say this ’cause I care.
Bones become more breakable and muscles tend to tear,
so please take proper care, dear, in your single lair.
At seventy those second chances tend to be more rare.
What do you value most, my friend? What carries you through life?
Have you friends and children? A husband or a wife?
If what we find of value in all the world contains
all we carry with us when youth and vigor wanes,
would you choose a portrait of all that you have had
that points your view toward happier times as the world turns sad,
or would you choose a camera that points you at the world––
all these younger lives than yours, about to come unfurled?
Whatever gives us life at first, then takes it all away
really only gives us what we have today
to value and make use of. So I want to be bolder,
looking straight ahead of me and not over my shoulder.
Though every hour has value, and every second in it,
the only time we have to spend is the coming minute.
Hobbling around on the stump of a life,
nobody’s lover and nobody’s wife,
her children and grandchildren all raised and grown,
out of her life and out on their own.
Is her life over? Is it near its ending,
or has she another life that is just pending?
Has she a talent for regeneration?
Is the first sixty years mere education?
A single shoe dropped is only one shoe.
Life isn’t over until it is through.
Perhaps she’s less active removed from the past,
but wind can still fill out a sail at half mast.
The stub of a life can still get us around.
A heart can still beat and the blood can still pound.
Go after adventure for all you are worth,
for every new day is a part of your birth.
The prompt word today was “stump,” and I must admit it nearly stumped me. Lately my poems have degenerated into moralistic little lesson-rhymes. I may seem to be up on the stump, but it it is not my intention to preach as it is mainly myself I’m trying to advise. If you want to listen in, you are most welcome.