To the lady who sat next to me, then inched her table away,
and to the table-movers to come:
I am sorry. It is this damn aging. I have smiled at babies
in their strollers, in the arms of mothers.
Now, I catch myself smiling at strangers.
You think it a kind of madness? But you see, somehow
I have developed a knack for emotional levitation.
Is it unsafe, this smiling into near and distant?
Look into my eyes, have they lost their piquancy?
Say hello. I am reasonable.
My skin is not elastic like yours, but neither is it green.
Shall I prefer green?
The flies at the patio door,
is it the sound of escaping effervescence they signal?
I’ve heard there is an old man smell.
Shall I shower more often, more vigorously?
“Heavenly days,” I heard this quaintness today.
A term for surprise or delight; is it the bugle of mortality?
And that lean and hungry look, does it suggest Cassius,
or those faces after the useless paint of morticians?
But now I have flooded myself with assumptions,
Perhaps one day, you will gently discover what aging means,
in the flying hair of young lovers racing.
And may you, earlier than late,
discover the beauty of 80-year-old friends.
In the mean time I will do you this kindness.
I will take the next number at the Medicentre.
I will comply, do what’s expected:
I will take my pills,
wear my pants high,
and go for pancakes on Tuesdays with men called Willard.