Good Oak Logs
I always thought that old I would grow,
Much like a fire of good oak logs,
Flaming, then burning to a cherry heat
Before turning to gray with ash,
Still keeping the shape as it settles
Like the fire that consumed me.
Instead, with the most and the best,
my past, being just stories
which my children and grandchildren
have never believed, and will never be told again.
Age comes on as a pain;
walking up my thighs as I rise to my feet
Using hands which have become my father’s,
Thinner with the skin finely worked,
Which, I recall, happened overnight on a Tuesday.
Joints which have moved from quiet precision,
of a blackwood flute to an uncertain staccato,
of snaps and pops, which I try to imagine are not there
Fingers which moved by the smallest slices of a millimeter
in the saving of lives now cannot move
a book page without betraying me
to a quivering of pointless repetition.
And all the memories that crowd the days
Are no more remarked than autumn smoke,
Fainted by time and remembrance.
Now of a separate realm of the past,
Wholly and holy, unremarked and unremarkable.
It is too hard to explain to these recent barbarians,
the magic of a radio, on Saturday mornings,
Returning me to whence I had never been,
Or to describe to those who glamour illusion,
the personality of a doll on strings,
the identical oldness of the ardor of youth.