I like the freedom of it, constructing my days as I like, an extra cup of coffee in the morning, maybe a massage in the afternoon, an extra glass of wine in the evening
Exploring the wide world, the delight of a grandchild’s love, stretching my comfort zone, reading books in stacks, time to create and think and write and volunteer
No longer at an employer’s beck and call, I can defy convention, have opinions of my own, spend time with those I like, do things my way
More cavalier about my appearance, less attached to “stuff”, open to new adventures, long walks
The twinge in my knees, knowing my mother only as a memory, a friend’s cancer diagnosis
Lost keys, a missed appointment, the forgotten name of a former student
Repeating stories, mourning lost ideals, confusing screens bombarding me with Twitter and Facebook and What’s Ap and Instagram
Like the screen on the heart monitor erratic and then slowing to a flatline.
When I taught high school English I used the poem about smoking below to introduce my students to the art of contrast poetry. Then they had to write their own contrast poems. This last week the Glaser poem inspired me to write the contrast poem about aging that opens this post.
Smoking by Elton Glaser
I like the cool and heft of it, dull metal on the palm,
And the click, the hiss, the spark fuming into flame,
Boldface of fire, the rage and sway of it, raw blue at the base
And a slope of gold, a touch to the packed tobacco, the tip
Turned red as a warning light, blown brighter by the breath,
The pull and the pump of it, and the paper’s white
Smoothed now to ash as the smoke draws back, drawn down
To the black crust of lungs, tar and poisons in the pink,
And the blood sorting it out, veins tight and the heart slow,
The push and wheeze of it, a sweep of plumes in the air
Like a rack of horses dragging a hearse through Old,
London, at the end of December, in the dark and fog.
A Fine Balance
Growing Old is Not for Cowards