100

I don’t ever want
to get old,
to end up grinning toothless
with hollow eyes,
vacant mind,
and bent fingers
waving at strangers.

I don’t want
to end up a wispy husk
a mockery of my former vitality
being spoonfed cake
by youthful greyhairs
in a cold, white room
where metal creaks,
decaying flesh hangs,
and death’s scent hovers.

“Don’t ever let me
get like that”
my mother instructed.
“Slip something into
my chicken soup.
Or better yet, my martini!”

No need.
She dropped dead at 55
in her prime,
head cushioned
en route to the floor
by the quick hands
of her fellow yogis.

She left behind
lists on the kitchen counter
unwrapped gifts in the cupboard
stunned loved ones in the great house
and complete clarity
that she was utterly finished.

She was wise.
She did not linger
with trembling limbs
and the stink of death on her lips,
or the bewildered stare
of an animal that has outlived
its joy and purpose.

Why do we celebrate number of years
as triumph?
Years lived
years wedded
years labored
when all this requires
is stubbornness, luck,
or the ability to bear habitual burdens.
This is nothing to praise
unless such endurance
was also fruitful,
sufficiently joyous
and freely chosen.

To grow old
is to travel backwards,
to experience second childhood
then infancy.
I expect mine
to be no less cruel
than the first
and no less lonely.

They say we die
as we lived.
Let it be so
for me.
Let me flame out!
Let me be
a plunging meteor carrying nothing
but dignity and a few regrets,
instead of long-expired relief
obeying gravity.

I will bear my solitude
as long as my end
can be swift
and unambiguous.

© S. Rinderle, July 2022

(Published on the 23rd anniversary of my mother’s death)

Photo: Pablo Carlos Budassi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s