ROUTINE

I spent the weekend with my 96-year-old grandmother. My time with her has gotten me thinking about time and gentility and patterns and memory.

With deep humility, I am posting two poems on aging. The first one I wrote and the second is written by my favorite poet, Wendell Berry. I hope he won’t mind sharing a page with me.

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ROUTINE

What day is it?
Sunday.
Oh, Sunday.

Her gaze turns to the window and the cobalt sky.
Long spaces of silence slow time.
The clock chimes.

I took all of the medicine,
but there wasn’t a red one.

You did it right.

No! There wasn’t a red one.
I needed to take a red one.
There wasn’t a red one.

Newspapers unopened.
Reader’s Digest unsealed.
Dusty television, ignored.

A robin lands on the window sill,
confused at his reflection,
who might that other bird be?

What day is it?
Sunday.
Oh, Sunday.

The clock chimes.
The bird flies away.

THERE IS NO GOING BACK, Wendell Berry

No, no, there is no going back.

Less and less you are that possibility you were.

More and more you have become those lives and deaths

that have belonged to you. You have become a sort of grave

containing much that was and is no more in time,

beloved then, now, and always.

And so you have become a sort of tree standing over a grave.

Now more than ever you can be generous toward each day that comes, young,

to disappear forever, and yet remain unaging in the mind.

Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away.

(Wendell Berry, from “Collected Poems)

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