I’ve entered my seventies well fed, healthy, warm, and loved, and still a voice insists that I have yet to, “step up,” and fulfill my responsibility as a productive adult. I haven’t stashed away a mass of money so my older years can be spent in travel and leisure. Now this voice insists I have to, take charge, pay bills, earn, save, build, produce, and somehow become the person I’ve never been and never wanted to be.
So I’m getting off the train,
now that it’s slowed enough to take that step
down to the platform where I’ll look around
and see the country that is me,
that’s been me all along,
passing in a blur outside a streaked window.
Old folks, some cynic says,
have to earn the right to stop -
earn it by producing for forty, fifty, sixty years;
amassing a stash that will feed them in their leisure.
Some voice insists I haven’t earned that right, not near,
but I’m going to stop regardless,
the alternative is unthinkable.
As I take the time, and look around
the country of my own aging, I see buds
of diverse colors about to bloom
atop long flexible stalks of plants
I never knew were there.
The blooms may be the last stage of the plant,
but they’re the reason the plant is there.
The stiffness of culture would resist the blossom, saying that this blossom
is the dying stage of the plant. Let’s, they say, keep the plant alive,
for god’s sake don’t let it bloom,
for blossoms are no longer productive.
Elderhood is not a time to grow, it’s a time to bloom.
All the energy spent on staying alive and producing crap
can now be channeled into blossoms:
all shapes, smells, colors and textures of blossoms.
Or shall I keep on growing higher,
pushing into the sky and die
before I bloom?