Our ancestors didn’t stick around
long enough to tell us how to bear
these sexless, wrinkled, white-haired
years. We limp forward with our canes
and walkers. We rise from the toilet
with our grab bars. We peer at menus
with our magnifiers. We fiddle
with the tiny batteries that run
our hearing aids, foiled by arthritic
fingers, dropping our glasses which,
being without, we cannot find.
And that’s the best of us!
Do not go gentle into that good night!
(Dylan Thomas, 39.) Or, why not relax.
Retire and move to Florida. Play golf.
Play bingo. Play cards. Play. Then
go to bed early.
They died too young, our poet seers. Keats
conked out at 26. Shelley at 30. Byron, 36.
Coleridge, 37. Shakespeare, 52. Chaucer,
the agèd, 56. These are our mentors. These
are our old men.
We’re in it all alone, this brave new world
of pills and surgeries. We finished with
to be or not to be; we’re up to what,
and how and why. They left us in the lurch,
and there we are. Reluctant heroes of
the Land of Aging. 70, 80, 90….
The lurch is ours. We navigate by feel,
making it up as we go along. Sans GPS,
sans stars to steer by, we count on our-
selves and on our greying peers, hoping
to arrive at last in time to know
where we are headed.
Marian Kaplun Shapiro is the author of a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1988), a poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007) and two chapbooks: Your Third Wish, (Finishing Line, 2007), and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday </em?(Pudding House, 2007). She was five times named Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2012.