Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I said 60, and tomorrow I turn 61.
All year I have whispered to myself--next week,
"Next week I will end my life."
My resolution began at twenty-five
When I watched my grandfather disentegrate
Wiping drool from his mouth he struggled to stand
The smell of soiled pants rising in the air
Inching his way uncertainly across the kitchen
Palsied hands grasping the counter like a child
And I swore in my heart
Swore deep in my heart
That I would never suffer myself to this.
"At sixty," I said. "At sixty I will leave before this comes."
But now sixty is almost over.
Yes, my back aches and my joints are stiffer than before
At night I struggle to stay asleep
And at breakfast I eat mostly pills
But there is still life in these bones.
The will to live is strong
And my balding head is not yet ready to lay down
Or lie in a box beneath the earth,
And the moments of joy were unexpected
The sear of love when I see my grandson toddle toward me
Words blurring on his lips,
And somehow this increased fragility of age
Has only seasoned the world
Made cold mornings more fresh
Each breath of steam a gift
Each scent of burning leaves a blessing.
The old grasshopper dragging himself along the branch
Is more blessed than I imagined.

Poem © 2014 Daniel Routh

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