February 17, 2018


When you’re young the cane is candy,
coming from a clown and
eating up the pain.
Later, you discover the cane is sugar,
the bane of your brain.
And when you’re old and vain,
believing morbific pain to be
a common cure for joy,
And after pride suffers a sprain,
unable to feign sufficiency anymore,
the cane appears,
though not urbane,
as karma.

That is a poem I wrote 15 years ago and now it turns out it was rather prophetic. Since I just had my 74th birthday I have decided that I can now allow myself to be officially old and use a cane. I formerly scoffed at the idea, having so much pride and thinking it would only make me look old.
But now I AM old and so I’ve gotten a cane. I’ve been unsteady on my feet, especially on uneven ground, so the cane helps to stabilize my walk a bit and keep me from tripping. I hope.

This next poem was written just last year:

oh look!
it’s the month of my birth.
and I cannot decide if I should
celebrate and call my friends in
for a party
or cry copious tears of rage
because of age.

but, seriously, I know that
tears are wasted on what I cannot change
and the years will pass
without my permission.

and so, I will put on the smiley face.
I will claim sageness and sagacity
and pretend I am so much wiser
than the young.

I do, however, avoid mirrors,
especially in changing rooms at the mall,
and try not to stare in envy
at my friends who have managed to keep
their youthful figures by
indulging in hopeless exercise.

For even though the sun is shining
to cheer up a winter day,
I can just as cheerfully sit
and exercise my mind,
losing myself and my cares
in other places, other concerns,
other months that may arrive
and offer hope.

I still haven’t gotten the advice I needed about the spacing of lines on my blog. I keep putting it off. It doesn’t seem to be near the top of my “to-do” list. But I decided I’d go ahead and put a few more poems on anyway.
I most usually write short poems but once in awhile the words just keep flowing out of my pen and I do run on. !


Even as a child I looked for solitude,
craving it like one who starves.
First there was my cherry tree,
the one I claimed as mine because
I found the chair, hidden high among
the branches, just the right size for me
with branches curving to make a back
and a seat. I fancied no one could find
me there and I could dream, I could imagine.

The me who grew into the teen years
found a secret hiding place down by the creek
that ran through the town near where I lived.
Someone before me had constructed a rough shelter
under a tree and I claimed it as my own.
When I felt that need to escape,
I walked there in the evening,
through the dark, willing that no one
should see me or find me.
It was a strange and rough place for a young girl
as I see it now. Then it was my refuge,
a place that belonged only to me,
a feeling quite rare. I could cry there,
and think. I could pretend I had escaped
from my life and all its hurts.

For many years to come there was no solitude.
Life brought me people, the “other” who claimed my space,
always there, a presence clamoring for my attention.

But now I have solitude, the solitude
that life delivered to my door
in a package I did not order, but must open.
I cannot flee now to a secret hiding place,
cannot escape from what I have become.

The years that pass are amused at my pain,
asking “what did you expect?”
and so there is no comfort except from
those who share place with me,
experiencing life together though remaining
alone. We cannot help each other.
but only gaze with sorrowful eyes,
holding hands and murmuring prayers.
We cling to our faith, but it does not
dry our eyes when pain dominates the day,
stamping out the optimism that
tries to rise with the sun.

And yet, who am I to complain?
I, who am so blessed,
my problems infinitesimal
in the scheme of things.


One thought on “February 17, 2018

  1. Hi Carolyn, Thanks so much for sending the lovely poems. Getting older does provide a lot of reasons for reflection, that is for sure; however, from where I stand (or sit) 74 is not old! And have you ever noticed the number of younger folks who are using canes or crutches or some other device for stability – after a sports injury or accident? In any case, I am glad to use my cane – the fold-up kind – though when I am using my shopping cart I find that enough for stability, at least when there is stuff in it. I suppose sometime in the near future I may need a walker. Oh, well, so long as I do not fall. I also identify with your “Alone” reflections – there are times when I find I have too much of that, but in general I am fine with solitude – after all these years of living alone it is no wonder, I guess!! We had a bit of snow on the weekend, and because I am fearful of falling, even getting to someone’s car, or to the church door, I stayed in. It has mostly gone now, but is cold today – around zero C. so I am going to wait until mid-day to go out, lest the sidewalks be icy. Blessings and love, Elsie


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