Poetry 2012 / Volume 43

Aging — Ann Niedringhaus

I close my fingers, try to grasp water.
The tighter I clench, the faster it runs away.

The April 15, 2007, issue of The New York Times
carried a headline: Aging: Disease or Business Opportunity?

I have long read obituaries. They change as I grow older.
Now I take inordinate comfort in those for the very elderly

Charles Simic wrote of dying: Secretly
we all hope that we are an exception to the rule.

In some ancient cultures aged people were left on an exposed
mountain top to die. They reportedly accepted this end.

During cadaver dissection in biology lab students seemed most interested
in unique damages to a body: scars, a tumor, an artificial hip.

Now what interests me most are those things which occur naturally,
those which recur, those to which I revert automatically.

In John Banville’s novel The Sea, the elderly narrator says,
I have been elbowed aside by a parody of myself.

Recent research interviews reveal that older people consistently
express greater happiness than those who are young.

I helped clean out my mother’s apartment before her final move.
Many prize possessions were swept up and carried off to the dump.

When I consider the universe, its far galaxies, its antiquity,
I am reminded: I am not needed.

Aging is a form of oxidation.
The same general process occurs when iron rusts or fire burns.

I trust that what I cannot describe, what I cannot control
is what will remain after I die.

In her book Nine Gates Jane Hirshfield advises,
Abandon all order and safety.

Looking back at my life, it seems the wake of a boat.
It flattens out even as I watch.

One thought on “Aging — Ann Niedringhaus

  1. Pingback: Current Issue: Volume 43, Number 1 — Poetry Issue, Fall 2012 | Coe Review

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