How did I get so old? Not as old as my 94 year old aunt, last (half) sister of my late mother. At 78, I hope I have a few healthy decades left to take care of my disabled daughter. But more and more I think about all the departed parents, friends, and siblings. I feel old, yet sometimes not so old.
Like today as I’m thinking about poetry, triggered by the memory of a poem I discovered over a decade ago. When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple by Jenny Joseph, a poem I happily discovered, among the many, many links, on the fantastic Late Bloomer website of Debra Eve. She writes that Jenny Joseph’s poem is second only among poetry lovers to Dylan Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (he’s at the top of my list).
You can read Jenny’s Old Woman poem on Debra’s site, where Jenny’s publisher gives Debra permission to post it. A poem that triggered memories of her mother.
A memory of my own mother once triggered this poem that won third place, long ago, in a Virginia state poetry contest. A friend said it made her shiver.
Near the Source (c) Ann Carbine Best
At ninety-seven my mother died.
Near the end she was clumsy
tapping a white-tipped cane,
touching and touching, her hands
as fragile as the baby sparrows
she fed that long winter. Why,
I wondered, did she bother? The cat
would snap their delicate bones.
Yet what remains is more than flesh
and bone. She told me how the x-rays
shot out light whiter, more brilliant
near the uterus. I feel it burning
the farther I walk, my hands
touching hers, restored to flight.