If I Grow Old with You
by Marianne Peel

If I grow old with you,
I will tap dance on a football field
of multicolored bubble wrap,
minature fireworks exploding beneath my toes.

I will refuse to lather myself in lavender or lace
and I will cease to shave my armpits,
braiding those strands of grey
into intricate and beaded cornrows.

I will open a bake shoppe
that serves a deliriously decadent menu
of chocolate and carbohydrates and vino
and I will not wipe politely the oozy goodness from my lips.

I will snort unashamedly when I laugh.
I will be that Bravo Lady in the front row center.
I will weep out loud during the courtroom scene in To Kill a Mockingbird,
and I will have my own personal standing ovation when Atticus passes by.

I will paint my toenails with bright turquoise stars
and continue to have pedicures by petite Vietnamese women.
I will blissfully rub my softened heels together
and play sensuous footgames with you, my lusty lover.

I will abandon all brassieres
wearing a translucent camisole instead.
My unbinding — my secret — under sweaters
that celebrate my curving parts, my roundness.

I will jingle and shimmer
when I enter a room
with a Turkish jangle wrap suspended around my belly
and rattling, dangling earrings that glitter sound.

I will stop buying boxes of $7.99 hairdye
and discover the silvery birch grayness of my own roots.
I will refuse to hack my hair into the requisite old lady bob
and instead wind my hair into interlocking dreadlocks

And at night, when our curtainless room welcomes the moonlight,
I will hang my bedazzled cane next to your collection of character hats.
I will snuggle in, warmly next to you, our hair blended
on the pillow together, a monochrome watercolor of tresses unbound.

IMAGE: “Autumn Song” by Erté (1892-1990).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The “If I…” prompt inspired me to write poem about possibility. I met my soulmate seven years ago in Turkey, and I used the prompt to imagine us together, growing old, figuring out what that might look like. I usually root my poetry in the present, the immediate. So, this was a stretch for me to imagine a future filled with all sorts of possibilities. This piece also gave me the opportunity to celebrate growing old and abandoning convention and tradition for what feels more genuine and true to self. This is my joy dance as I approach my sixth decade on this earth…


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianne Peel taught English at middle and high school for 32 years, and is now retired, doing Field Instructor work for Michigan State University.  She won first prize for poetry in the Spring 2016 Edition of the Gadfly Literary Magazine, and.  also won the Pete Edmonds Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared  in Encodings:  A Feminist Literary Journal; Write to Heal; Writing for Our Lives:  Our Bodies—Hurts, Hungers, Healing;  Mother Voices; Metropolitan Woman Magazine;  Ophelia’s Mom;  Jellyfish Whispers; and Remembered Arts Journal, and will appear in the fall editions of Muddy River Review and EastLit Journal. The recipient of Fulbright-Hays Awards to Nepal and Turkey, she is a flute-playing vocalist, learning to play ukulele. Raising four daughters, she shares her life with her partner Scott, whom she met in Istanbul while studying in Turkey.  She taught teachers in Guizhou Province, China, for three summers, and in January 2016 toured several Chinese provinces with the Valparaiso Symphony, playing both flute and piccolo.  In June 2016, she was invited to participate in Marge Piercy’s Juried Intensive Poetry Workshop.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This one was taken in Louisville, Kentucky, at the IdeaFest. I think it captures not only the theme of the conference, “Stay Curious,” but it also captures my willingness to teeter and totter my way through life. Unbridled spirit, that’s me. And, as with my poem for the  “IF I” prompt, I hope to continue to risk and dare and stretch… unafraid to lose my balance along the journey.