It’s not a change for the worse, unexpected, not an abrupt
grinding downshift for a corner you’re going too fast to make.
It’s not like that?not at all like locking up the brakes
to skid sideways to a stop with an inch or so to spare,
the engine still idling, so quiet you can hear the dust settle,
idling as if nothing had gone wrong.
No, aging is more like a slow segue, a glissando rather than incremental clicks;
or a few degrees on your thermometer that don’t amount to much quantitatively,
yet separate warm and familiar, comfortable, from distinct chill.
Those few degrees add up to the end of a long season …
Maybe a storm would make it all easier: blistering rain
with winds that thin your hair and blow the color out of what’s left,
Mach one winds that make your jowls sag.
A man could stand up to that?or to a wreck, a cardiac crack-up.
But it’s not like that. Instead, an almost imperceptible desiccation sets in,
passions thickening like old paint in cans you can barely pry open.
So turning sixty isn’t disaster after all, nor crisis, panic, despair, malevolence,
but merely a bit more of what’s already troubled you for years?
that and gravity’s fat thumb becoming heavier, heavier, heavier.
—from Rattle #21, Summer 2004