Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Tag: aging

At Large

Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?
-William Shakespeare, As You Like It

 

Give it to me in pieces, please,
Just a nibble, something easy to stomach,
Morsels, a simple sweet bit, soupçons,
Spoonfuls that melt on the tongue, like honey,
Tidbits, a gobbet, a taste.

Minutiae? It’s not trivial. Trifle?
An English dessert, layered in subtle
Creams, custards, fruits. Isn’t joy
Best delivered in snippets? Your cake made sweeter
By the bitter coffee that warms my
Waking hands? Even those who throw
The grand galas, know
That the devil is in the details.

For bright blue eyes are the most beautiful,
My love, when gracing a weathered face:
A visage that earned its deepened lines
By squinting into the sun, the same ball
Of scorching plasma that blinded us to the
Stars, upon which we only see fit
To wish in the darkest of nights.

Changing The Sidewalk

“So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and gives life to thee.”
From Sonnet XVIII
by, William Shakespeare

Unsteadily upright,
A white-pated man
Awaited to shuffle across
The intersection. One hand
On a button, shakily
pushed for a pedestrian
Crossing, the other rested casually
On his jutted, arthritic hip,
Exposing the underbelly
Of his hand, his palm,
Flawless and juxtaposed
Next to his exhausted body.

His bowled legs,
Barely able to support
His aged body, met the ground
In blindingly white tennis shoes
With velcro straps, draped
In an easy-fitting
Geriatric uniform:
Khaki pants, zippered
Wind breaker, suggesting
His hands now have
Proven themselves as
Cumbersome during
His daily dressing.

His profile, grey and golden,
Illuminated by autumnal
Afternoon sun, proved useless
To warm his
Cardiovascular conundrums.
The whole of his body
Trembled, weary
From a lifetime of
Crossing busy streets.

Yet the un-calloused hand,
Pristine and smooth, once
Undertook the gentler and
More sensual of tasks:
Childhood sculpting of
Hand-made clay,
Caressing the skin of
A young lover, Cupping the
Open-fontanelled skull of
A newborn infant; a touch,
A neuro-pathway,
A motor sensory memory
Of realized youthful pleasure,
Unchecked and unspoiled
By a lifetime of hard-earned
Changes.

Children of a Humanist God

As a mother, I pretended to teach
My daughter to pump a swing;
’Twas more like a persuasion
Of her legs and brains
Into her natural and instinctual abilities.

Gravitational forces,
Manipulation of a swinging
Pendulum of joy by a rhythmic
Pumping of tiny legs, outstretched
By Pavlovian-like response
To the metallic squeak
At its hinged, friction-full pivot point.

Rocking herself, an oscillation
Of comfort, she discovers that
A harder kick results in a
Higher trajectory, a bigger thrill,
And eventually, the ability
To fly, if only for a moment,
As her tiny hands release the
Chains, and her bottom leaves the
Propylene rubber strap of a seat,
Her yellow rain boots higher than her chin.

For a moment, I see my own saddle shoes,
White polish bleeding into the
Brown arch, laces frayed and
Soles worn from braking a 1974
Model of the same pendulum.
I had learned the hard way that
The pain of landing, the sting
Shoots through the soft bones
Of the heel through developing shins.

Vestigially I felt the same flip
Of the stomach, anticipating
Euphoric flight, which suddenly turned
To the realization that nurtured fear
Left me the child, learning to navigate
Galileo’s research on pendulums,
Which proved useful as time keepers.

Homarus Divinus

The blue, crustaceous,
Frothing body, waved its claws
Like a ballet dancer stretching
Before its finale, an involuntary grand jété
Into a pot of furious water,
Piercing the steamy air
With articulated antennae.

Released by a freckled, scarred hand
Of an educated renaissance man
On the cusp of emotional understanding,
The shellfish with a history of its own
Gradually morphed into a new state
Of existence. Baptized to a red-orange hue,
Cleansed of its darker exoskeleton,
It demonstrated a sacrificial metamorphosis.

The lobster transferred to a plate,
Resting on a minimalist refractory table
Made stable with matchbooks and a needlepoint
That declared “Peace is where the home is,
Home is where the heart is.”

A woman in her ninth decade
Prepared for the transubstantiation
Wearing a housecoat, stained from years of nurturing
And armed with able hands familiar with every cavity,
Eyes clouded with leukemic cataracts
That now looked only inward to recognize what
Remained vivid and familiar.

She assumed the dance,
Less gracefully but just as
Poignantly as she pulled every
Morsel of delicate flesh from
The shell. As her dining companions
Made more work for themselves,
An old woman was esoterically
Transferred to her childhood plane.

We reveled more in her recollections,
Made richer than any spiced traditional
Canadian butter. Yet hereafter,
A lobster served on white table cloths
In the culinary capitals of the globe
Would seem bland by comparison.

Nurture

The image of a morphing face
Squints at a deepening line
Intersecting with a place
And an emotion, in kind.

A topographic map
Of one particular past
As cartograph
Laid out in glass.

Two craters, bipolar,
Varicella-zoster virus
In symmetrical order
Left to remind us,

That this same visage,
Once unchartered, ignorant,
Awed by new courage
Was rendered cognizant.

One elbow, split brow
The feet of crows
Bleeds into rivers,
A tributary line grows.

One cannot decipher
Where sophomoric injury
The rivers of the Punjab, weather
And merge in mystery.

Contour lines, Shaded relief
Hours exposed, warm rays of sun
Discoveries and disbelief
While hindered by none.

So smoothly spread a cream
With shaking creased fingertips
As daughter watches, countertop, lean
Share the scars from feathered wise lips.