Old Age

I will get old. Should I age gracefully?
Buy creams that make me look young while letting my hair fade?
Traveling the world continuously leaping
from place to place not existing in form but in soul
bringing water to children then shopping at Les Puces
for an afternoon of rest, remaining viable and desired
jetting back to the States on a visit to my grown children
and amaze at all their accomplishments. But then—

When my sons introduce me to their prospective brides
I will train my face to always smile,
and not ask Why can’t you find one with a brain?
How else to feel other than I am,
often thinking Stepford Wives—
Oh how terrible it must be for an older woman
standing before a future family member and her thinking
I can’t believe she created such a man! Don’t worry I will fix your mistakes!
After dinner she would ask How much money do you have?
Should I tell her? Would she like me then?
Say All right I’m gaining a daughter
and should I ask Why couldn’t you find one with a brain?

O God then grandchildren! All of them running wild—
I should surround them with love and homemade cookies
and never give cheap immature gifts but find the perfect things
their mother would never buy and teach them to play violin and flute
I’ll keep a set of snare drums at my house
and we’ll organize a marching band for the neighbors’ afternoon
enjoyment then afterward go out for pizza and sugar-laden pop
that fizzes in their cups as I liberally fill grubby hands with quarters
to spend on machines at the prepubescent casino.

But I have to get old and I know I should tap into the well
and have a greater capacity for love and acceptance than youth can give
but I probably won’t—I’ll forget how to use a debit card
and police young people on their dress and driving skills
because polyester pants with elastic waistbands are very concealing
and you should never exceed 30 miles per hour
for safety reasons and gas consumption, I won’t be able to babysit
on account of the silence I need and the naps I take
to endure the bodily pains and neat-freak house filled with collections
of crystal and glass and antique furniture that might break.

O but what about childhood? I forget childhood
and all the wonder that surrounds a child
it’s just that the idea of becoming a grandmother feels like a strange garment
that’s too tight here and too long there—I never want to be an old woman
who is always cranky and expects short adults
so has lost something that maybe I can find—
going back to the beginning and with fresh eyes see
everything new again.


About Janelle McGuire

My imaginary friends love me
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