Now We Are Old

oldthingssepia

Photo via Pixabay.

by Rowan McConnell

When we were young
and life was sometimes hard
and tricky to navigate,
we didn’t care;
we never lost sight of
the proper star,
always found our way
where we were going,
collecting postcards,
pieces of hearts,
journals kept along the way.
Our brains worked well enough
to box things up:
categorize and file away,
save memories for a rainy day.
Our minds were sharp
and full of sunlight.

We passed through the midlife,
and weathered tornadoes
one after another,
a heart attack here
a stroke there,
broken bones and
battered minds,
and the boxes began to cave
and their contents shifted –
a little here,
a bit more there,
a word on the tip of the tongue,
names misremembered –
nothing to worry about
as long as you
take your medicine,
eat right,
get plenty of exercise
and say all the right incantations to St. Apophenia
to keep your files straight.

Now we are old
and life is too much,
and strained hearts do the work
of brains.
No boxes left
to sort and divide,
and all the things we saved
begin to slip and fall together.
The order falls apart.
It all bleeds through,
everything running into everything else.
Sons become spouses,
hospitals are schools –
look, there’s Principal Clarke
who took my brain apart last year.
And we cry when we mean to laugh
(though there’s not very much
to smile about, really)
and we pee when we cough
and talk about the cabbage we’ll have for lunch
because we can’t tell the difference –
we just know something stinks –
and all
the days
are full
of rain.

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