A few years ago, when we were living in Las Vegas, I was the Instructor/Facilitator of a group of “over 50 (years old) writers.” It’s my contention that after fifty it suddenly hits you that, yes, maybe you’re going to get old, too; It wasn’t just the affliction of your parents and grandparents who were always old, at least in your mind. Around that age many people begin to feel the stirrings of the desire to put down some kind of record to add to whatever already exists of family, something that says “I was there . . . and I did okay.”
One of the assignments I gave to them as a group effort was for each of them to add one line to seven different verses of a free style poem. I’m quite proud of it (and them) and am sharing it here. (Please note, one line in each verse was written by a man, but I’ll bet you wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t mentioned it.) In the interest of privacy I will list only the first names of the authors: Glover, Ardis, Dorothy, Jim, Lucille, Rosa Lee, and of course myself (I provided the first line in each verse). This is the poem that emerged. I hope you like it as much as I do. (Note: Individual lines are enclosed in forward slants /.)
Having moved from womb to breast / I eat, sleep and grow. / I crawled, then toddled, then walked, and talked / Still safe in our family’s nest / A small miracle created by two people / I learn to laugh / I am spirit, just moved into a body, and I still can think!
I chased Bobby at school today . . . / He almost let me catch him. / My homework is done. How is my hair? and my skirt? / One too long, the other too short, I suppose. / Why can’t I wear those low cut jeans? My dad is mean! / First I learn phonetics so I can read / Now, I can sing, and I can dance and party! Party!
When we were seven he threw rocks at me; I knew then he loved me. / Fire flames reflecting colors off his back, / A vision of my paradise. / Together we invented romance and passion, / Vividly alive in the moment. / And Dad kept telling me if he touches you, I’ll rip his face off! / Dreams of . . . marriage!
Musky smells penetrate the night air. / The sound of an owl greets the moon / As I relax in a hot tub of fragrant bubbles, / Floating above daily troubles, cocooned in silence. / I fear the world passes me by while I am lost in routine each day. / From dawn to dark my work goes on. / I cook, I clean, I wash the clothes. Gee, I’m tired!
My belly is soft from too many children, / Sagging breasts are hard to bear. / A soft belly and low breasts are a small price to pay / For the bubbling, gurgling, messy joy of babies. / But will there be time for soccer and little league on the same day? / I make time for each child.
I dole out the treats / And say “yes” to almost anything. / The rewards of grandchildren have not been overrated / For they render sticky kisses and hug me, oh so tightly. / No wonder that having kids is left to young people; it’s a lot of work. / Wish the kids hadn’t found out the door swings in as well as out. / Oh, but how I love that word, “Granny.”
“Turn off that news!” / The loud, repetitive torture of 24-hour news gives me old-age rage. / Turn on the music. / Yes, the music, and the solitude to listen, and wisdom that comes with age. / Let us enjoy beautiful sunsets, read a good book where things end right. / My body ages, but my mind does not! / It can be the most beautiful time of life, and peaceful too.