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February 16, 2006

Affirmation — by Donald Hall

To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
is temporary. The bold woman,
middle–aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond's edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and sweet to lose everything.

February 16, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Some things stay and only time tells the tale of how faithful they were to the very end.

Posted by: Milena | Dec 23, 2008 6:15:51 PM

decorum it is, but dulce it ain't.

Posted by: duh | Feb 17, 2006 3:55:52 PM

Was this mood prompted by anestheseology for an aging plastic surgery patient? Was it Cher who sang ... "If I could turn back time..." maybe she was singing somebody else's song.

But I digress...

Posted by: Three Layer Cake | Feb 17, 2006 1:56:36 PM

If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.

Donald Hall's second wife, Jane Kenyon, died of cancer, after she nursed him through a bought of cancer. Kenyon, also a poet, wrote about her depression, among other things.

Posted by: Mb | Feb 16, 2006 8:40:55 PM

thanks joe.
just a wonderful choice!

Posted by: llt | Feb 16, 2006 8:38:46 PM

I know not why, but this poem I posted yesterday seems like the perfect complement to yours today, so I thought I'd share...

By Dorianne Laux

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don't bother remembering
any of it. Let's stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

Posted by: Shawn Lea | Feb 16, 2006 5:21:30 PM

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