It comes not when it's wanted,
because it's never wanted--
who would choose hanging
folds of skin, a face creased
with scores of age lines, feet
speckled with spider veins, an
aging heart that could yell
'Surprise!' any time it chose.
An actress once said, 'Getting old
is not for sissies'-- she was right.
It takes guts to feel the gradual
loosening of a once proud body,
and the brain's slow softening.
There is no glory in getting old:
you are just a survivor of life's
myriad tricks, all its accidents,
illnesses, petty defeats and loss.
And old age does not carry wisdom
with it as you might expect-- there
are many tart in youth still bitter in
their slowing down decades, even
hostile to the joys they might once
have hoped to swim in, carefree....
So why must we get old? What use
is it, other than nature making room
for other beings to replace us? Still,
why can't we live for centuries like
old trees, or those big turtles found
on that island with the funny name?
Perhaps it is a way to teach us, to
cure the young of their solipsism,
to shear them of the innate vanity
that comes of taut bodies and soft
handsome faces-- then to plant the
subtle fears that come with aging:
the vulnerability of unlived dreams,
trashed hopes, perhaps the quiet,
persistent ache of a lost love...
not to mention the fear of falling!
So if you are a young reader
of this old poet, you may ask,
'What? Nothing comes good
of along life? No hope at all?'
Oh yes, something very good
can come from a long decline,
at least for those who choose
to believe-- anticipation!
(composed November, 2015)
Copyright © len carber