The following poem was written in 1999 and posted at Open Diary when I was 48. Since I’ve recently turned 70, I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues raised in this poem, composed so long ago, it seems to me now. In re-reading it several times, I see a lot of me as I am now, two decades ago. Its strange how time can play tricks on us, which makes me wonder what time is anyway.
Shortly, I hope to write Part 2 of “Ageless.” It will be only the second time in 18 years that I’ve written a poem. Now, since poetry has a way of capturing our deepest thoughts and feelings, I’m going to give it a try. I think I’m going to sit down one day and it’s all going to come out.
Ageless Part 1
Stand back, Methuselah,
I’m not ready to get old,
or to travel too much farther
or deeper into the night, yet.
I see crevices of age
in a mirror’s image
that doesn’t blanch
or flinch over truth-telling
like me in denial.
But I look hard at myself,
and I don’t see you, Ancient One.
this image in the mirror tells me.
No matter how many times I see it,
it always looks the same.
I’m still that youth
who even way back when
looked for signs of aging.
Youth, but now, past tense,
not on edge, but wary,
knowledgeable and experienced,
but where are the old enthusiasms?
Where is the compulsive need
to rush out and embrace life?
Maybe someone can make it reappear.
I link myself to all who’ve come before
when I contemplate where I’ve been
and how I’ve lived or not.
I haven’t lost, at least,
my keen awareness of getting older, slowly.
Aging is out there, somewhere,
just not for me.
I won’t become that old man
in white bare skin and bony legs,
hearing aid stuffed in ear to hear,
exposed, drooping a bit,
paying for his prescription,
waiting in line, like me,
but in no apparent hurry, like me.
At least he seems to be following
a safe path to his end times,
going slow, and taking no notice of me.
Oblivious, or else he doesn’t care.
Why should he?
It’s hot outside.
No need to go fast and work up a sweat
like we who bustle about
brimming with more of what
we think is life’s energy and relevance,
puffed up with the importance of our busyness
and our being here in the first place.
(Written Aug. 11, 1999)
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