Growing Old - Poem by Tentative Poet
Why does she look like that,
My daughter asked at a dinner,
She meant the old lady who sat in a wheelchair,
At a table across from us, her body askew,
Head lolling to the left,
No expression on her face,
And, I think most distressing,
Her tongue appeared swollen,
Stuck in her open mouth.
A maid tended to her,
Leaning over talking softly,
Tapping on the table with a chopstick,
Entertaining the old lady
Whose unfocused eyes looked to the middle distance
Off to one side, as her relatives loudly
Devoured their steamed grouper and shark's fin soup.
She's old, she's suffered a stroke,
I told her, that's how growing old is.
My daughter, silent for a moment,
Digesting the horror of that fact perhaps, sniffed,
Said, I feel like crying when I see her.
I looked over at my little girl,
Who just turned the corner of thirteen,
Her life ahead still full of vagueness and possibilities,
Forced to confront one such,
Her sympathy for the old lady
Overwhelming, dragging a rare frown
Onto her sweet young face.
On the drive home, she was silent, thoughtful.
I wondered if she was
Weighing her mortality,
Measuring her not-yet five thousand days
Against the old lady's five-times-hers,
And finding it doesn't add up
Quite as easily as the sums she does in school.
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