What a great idea: (Use the link below the photo.)
I find that my life is rapidly slowing.
I’m gingerly coming and gingerly going,
for if I move quickly in shower or mall
I slip and I stumble. I bump and I fall.
I eat gingerbread cookies and drink ginger ale.
I mince more fresh ginger over my kale,
thinking that once I have eaten a faceful
somehow I’ll develop a gait that’s more graceful.
Yet when I go faster,
with steps that are vaster,
I find that once more
I’m down on the floor.
So again I move gingerly, with great attention,
hoping that no one will notice and mention
that I’m also shrinking, and the lower I get
with less distance to fall, still the slower I get.
I don’t need a walker. I don’t need a cane.
I’m not yet in need of the handicapped lane.
Please don’t offer a wheelchair for boarding the plane.
I’m entirely capable, plus I’m too vain
to be labeled as elderly, seen as infirm
I have not yet contracted that “elderly” germ
that will render me helpless and feeble and fumbling.
I simply step gingerly, lest I go tumbling.
The prompt today was gingerly.
The only thing that makes my present memory lapses at all bearable is that all of my friends seem to be having the same problems. I lose my keys, find them and before I make it out the door, lose them again. When I drive into town, I usually forget at least twice where I am going and end up repeating again and again, “Bank to get money. Bank to get money,” or “Pick up Glenda.” The other day, however, I reached a new low.
I was about to Skype a friend to tell him where I was going and why I wouldn’t be home for the rest of the afternoon. I was going to the awards luncheon for a local news magazine. I’ve been reading this publication monthly for 16 years and submitting work to it for nearly this long. Long story short, I am very very well acquainted with its name, but suddenly, I could not for the life of me remember what it was. I shook my head, trying to shuffle and refile my memory, but nothing popped into mental view until suddenly, the word “ajo” popped up. Ajo what? “Ajo del Agua.” It sounded sort of right but something seemed wrong. Ajo? Garlic? Agua? Water? Why would a paper be named garlic water? Yet it seemed so right. Ajo. Ajo. It was driving me crazy. Oh, wait, I was already crazy.
It was disturbing me greatly and then, suddenly “Ojo del Lago” slipped into the right slot in my brain. Yes. “Eye of the Lake” sounded much more appropriate than “Garlic Water.” Oy Vey. That phrase is starting to feel ever more appropriate to express the events of my life lately.
El Ojo del Lago is a cool monthly publication also available for free online. Here is the link:
If you have a story or poem you think might be appropriate, they are always looking for submissions.
I just got home from a luncheon where I was surprised to discover I’d received the 2017 Ojo del Lago Award for outstanding literary achievement in the category of best fiction for a short story, “Snowball in Hell.” I don’t believe I’ve ever published it on my blog as it was done as a timed writing for my writing group in La Manzanilla. Since it loosely follows the prompt for today, which is “tentative,” I’ll stretch things a bit and publish it today:
Snowball in Hell
“There’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell,” she snarled at him as he beat a hasty retreat out the door. Everyone knew she was a feisty old dame, but she still felt compelled to prove the fact often enough to remind herself of the truth of it. Lately, she’d been feeling herself mellow. Growing teary-eyed at the sight of kittens on YouTube videos—having little heart-flutters when she glimpsed other women’s grandchildren in photos on cell phones.
When she stood back to consider this strange new course of events, she could only view it as she might view a mysterious disease—look at the symptoms, try to figure out a cure. Surely, being around children or kittens might help. Nothing like reality to pop the bubble of a fancy. Kibbles underfoot and gumdrops in the sheets could surely cancel out cute. Although she had no experience with such cures, since they’d never been necessary before.
Jake had wanted kids long ago. Actually, he’d gone on wanting them for a good twenty years—as long as she might have provided them—but her refusal had been as determined as her response today, when he had asked if she perhaps would be interested in a Caribbean cruise. Her on a cruise ship with old men in madras shorts and women in beauty-parlor hairdos? She tried to think of what she would do on a boat. She had taken a mental oath years before to never play shuffleboard and bridge made her dyspeptic. She’d discovered this in college, waiting for Karen Schuller to play her hand, drumming her long perfectly polished fingernails on the bridge table, screwing her little red cupid box mouth into a perplexed knot.
“Play the damn card!!!” she’d screamed internally, afraid that if the bitch ran one more finger tattoo on the table that she’d slam her fist down on that perfect hand. It seemed easier to give up bridge than to give up the aggression she felt every time she heard the sharp drumming and viewed that pensive mouth.
Cruise ships, she was sure, were full of Karen Schullers, all grown up, with fingernails an inch longer, lips forty years more wrinkled. And they made you eat things like lobster and crabs—giant underwater bugs that no one would ever convince her were meant for consumption. But the truth of it was, that aside from these irritations, being cooped up in a cabin with Jake for a week or more must didn’t carry any attraction for her any more. The old coot got stranger by the day. Just last night, on the couch, watching Ray Donovan, he had tried to hold her hand. Forty years married and like a teenager, furtively reaching over. They’d been done with all that syrup years ago, but now, why was he thinking hand holds and Caribbean cruises?
What month was it? She tried to sort out a reason. Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas––not that they ever observed any of them. Finally, she gave up. There was no accounting for old men in their first states of senility. She would just have to put up with it, but she didn’t have to go along. She settled herself more solidly into her chair and grabbed the remote, switching on the TV connected to her computer. Millie Perkins had Facebooked her another puppy/bunny video. She tried to resist, but found herself moving the mouse over to the arrow. The bunny had loppy ears and the puppy had very long hair and a little vest. She clicked off the TV quickly when Jake came into the room, but didn’t greet him.
“Clara?” he asked tentatively. She pretended not to hear. “Honey?” In his hand was an envelope that looked sort of crumpled and a bit dusty, like he’d been hanging onto it for awhile. “Remember your last checkup? The results came a few days ago.” She looked up at him, and his face looked soft––like the face of the bunny. Something was written on it––a different sadness that she hadn’t seen before. He sat down beside her on the couch and risked once more taking her hand. And this time she let him.
The prompt today was tentative
Nights out I once found glorious,
exciting and uproarious,
I now just find laborious.
Without a doubt,
it is more fun
when day is done
to mime the way the sun
Instead of donning dancing gown
and going to light up the town,
to drink and dance, to get it down
’til I perspire,
I brush my teeth, gargle and cough.
My clothes I shed, my shoes I doff.
I find the light switch, turn it off,
and just retire.
For a bit of a contrast to this poem you may want to go here:
The prompt today was glorious.
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.
Compose a ballad for Auntie Mame,
famous of body and of name,
and make the music slow and sad
as we revere the moves she had;
for all those parts she chose to wiggle
eventually began to jiggle.
Those shocking movements that won her fame
were finally ones she had to tame,
and all the fellows who once came
to see her at her sexy game
seem to have vanished, to have flown
once her parts moved on their own.
No matter that she lived by art—
how wide her fame, how big her heart—
once revered parts began to swing,
I fear her peeping Toms took wing.
What wives saw as depravity,
I fear she lost to gravity.
Yet years that held her in their sway
could not take her spirit away.
In some assisted living facility,
she still displays agility.
Her movements, true, may be much slower
and certain displayed parts much lower.
Her scarves are larger and tightly wrapped
where once they fluttered and they flapped,
but still admirers hoot and holler
and grace her g string with a dollar.
So sing her praises far and wide.
She’s still the tart she was inside.
The prompt was jiggle.