You know those double-time fast movies
A flower blooming
A tree sprouting instant leaves like a green porcupine.
Me, I’m the opposite.
I move at a molasses pace like
My movie is stuck on slow motion
Minutes pass as I laboriously set one foot
Down, then another
Walk through sticky porridge to get to the other side of the room
Accompanied by the sounds of a spoon clacking against the bowl.
Not quicksand exactly
Just age suddenly upon me
So I will press my fast forward button and step lively like I used to
Snappy and brisk
Springy and quick
Nobody will be able to tell that I am old.
I see four mourning doves every day
Serene and mild-mannered
As they pigeonwalk here and there.
Each dove is a bubble of gray, plump body
And tiny head bobbing.
They placidly graze under the feeder outside the kitchen window
Oblivious to the sparrows and cardinals that swoop overhead and
Knock birdseed onto the ground in their feeding fury.
The doves peck and peck
In their slow meandering way
Following the trails of seed.
I’m not sure anyone should write poetry about writing poetry
It seems very self-indulgent
But I just realized
That my poetry is the same as my prose
For line breaks.
To write a poem
All I have to do is chop up ordinary sentences
Because see, I have a short attention span anyway
And a whole paragraph makes me nervous with its
So instead I adopt a porous style with
Lots of white showing through
A colander, not a stew pot
As it were
And call myself a poet.
I have been reading obituaries
Where the bereaved say things like
She’ll wait for me in heaven
Or he’s watching out for me from paradise.
I don’t know if people believe these fantasies
Or just understand that such stories
Are there to get through a tough moment in life.
Maybe better than saying
Oh he’s deader than a doornail
So long, too bad about your short yet miserable life.
Maybe we need to say all those things
Even if we don’t actually believe them
Maybe it’s like taking off your glasses when you are nearsighted
Letting everything go all soft and fuzzy
And hard to recognize
Is this death you ask?
Maybe it’s just the cat.
Hard to tell without my glasses.
Sad to say
I am still alone
Baking cookies or whatever
I am not sniveling
I am brave in my isolation
Like a pugnacious dog
Yapping at myself in the mirror.
I like that image
My mouth fits nicely into a snarl shape.
After the cookies cool I
Fill my pockets with them to eat as I shamble along
On my solitary walk
Amble along being brave
I throw a cookie to a passing dog
Also walking alone
Good dog, he snaps up the cookie and barks for more.
I empty my pockets onto the ground.
I called him my judge
Not the judge
Because when I was a law clerk
Getting him coffee
Researching his opinions
Following him as he went in and out of the courtroom
In his black robes
I adored him. I mean
He was brilliant, a first amendment scholar, a star
Full of portly bonhomie
A native son from the wrong side of the tracks.
He smoked cigarettes with flair
Told filthy jokes and war stories.
He once asked me early on
What I thought he would be if he wasn’t a judge
I think he wanted me to answer, a senator, a professor
Something like that
But I said, a bartender.
Because he was Irish and drank whiskey and was convivial.
A few years later when I was a lawyer
Too many cigarettes, too much whiskey
Too much bonhomie.
Probably too much adoration.
Yesterday was one of those gray sleepy days
My mind was a bit foggy.
I turned the lamps on early
And made cookies.
Before I retired I used to sit at a desk all day reading
Cases and researching points of law
Drafting lists of critical questions to
Surrounded by books and files
Stacked up at my elbow, teetering in a pile on the floor.
In adjoining offices
My secretary and my partner and a paralegal talked
About legal matters, their
Voices a background murmur
And someone might be pouring coffee.
I was busy, always busy at work
Telephone ringing with clients, court, lawyers on the line
And appointments, sometime two or three
In a row.
I don’t miss those days but
My ankles weren’t stiff back then
And sometimes I miss the race.