Archives for posts with tag: seniors

The Ageing Woman as Alchemist
by Abigail Wyatt

Dry souls are wisest and best. — Heraclitus

These days, more and more, I wear my pointed hat
and care nothing for those striplings who would mock me.
Close-closeted, by night, I inscribe my coded symbols,
hear the voices of my ancestors whisper on the air.
I prepare, I prepare: by slow degrees, I engage in the piece work of      starlight:
projects, novelties excite me less as the children of Nyx draw me in.
And in time, too, I will build me a fire of dry twigs and the skeletons of      leaves.
I will burn off in clouds of simple steam all that great weight of the too      long unforgotten
that pulls me ever deeper down: passions that bit deep, the wellspring
of old griefs that pollute my noisome soul with their clamour.
No more will I be tethered to this teeming swamp:
hollowed out, my heart burnt out, now I am for burning away.
And, as old glue dries to dust, these days I find I cannot adhere to      things;
left without substance, without juice and flesh, the bones of my being      are laid bare.
Stripped of my follies, my prides, my tears, I am reduced to the rock salt      of my knowing.
I fear a few grains are all the wisdom there is. See, it is blown upon the      air.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem just over a year ago and first performed it at a reading given as part of the Penzance Literary festival. Around that time I had been increasingly aware that I had entered a new phase in my life. I stopped colouring my hair, grew my new, grey hair longer, and began to concern myself both less and more with the business of who I was and what I wanted. What I am discovering is that I need fewer things but, more and more, I resent spending time on the banal and the trivial. I also know now that there is little ‘peace’ in older age since inwardly — and often outwardly too — I rage against cruelty and injustice. It is as much the job, of the elders, I think, as it is of the young to remind the community what where they may be compromise and where there can be none.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abigail Wyatt writes poetry and some short fiction. She lives in Cornwall but has waking dreams of moving to South Pembrokeshire in Wales. Cornwall is lovely but she has been there a long time and her life has become noisy and stressful. New horizons and new challenges beckon. Another metamorphosis.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON HER PHOTO: Me at the turn of this year: badger hair but the same blue eyes. The trouble is, as my grandmother once told me, you never feel any older.

by Tamara Madison

This body is the vehicle
by which I navigate the world.
Here is a photograph
of its younger self
crouched on a rock.
Those feet are the feet
by which I have always
trod the earth, but the photo
was taken before living
had given them
bunions and fungus.
The hair that falls
in a hazy fan
down the shoulder
is this hair before it took on
shades of silver and gray.
The face in the photo
is turned away, watching
the winter sun drift down
behind the mountains
while the future
crouches behind the rock,
waiting to climb up
the young back,
this same back with the turn
in its spine which forms
the little hump where
for six decades I have stored
my slights and sorrows.
My body’s scaffold of bones
is the same, but all the cells
are brand spanking new.

IMAGE: “Red Hills, Lake George” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1927).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison teaches English and French at a public high school in Los Angeles. Raised on a citrus farm in the California desert, Tamara’s life has taken her many places, including Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she spent fifteen months in the 1970s. A swimmer and dog lover, Tamara says, “All I ever wanted to do with my life was write, and I mostly write poetry because it suits my lifestyle. I like the way one can say so much in the economical space of a poem.”

by Jane Kenyon

I scrub the long floorboards
in the kitchen, repeating
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
And when I find a long gray hair
floating in the pail,
I feel my life added to theirs


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on May 23, 1947, Jane Kenyon earned a BA from the University of Michigan in 1970 and an MA in 1972. That same year, Kenyon married the poet Donald Hall, and moved to Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire. Kenyon’s published books of poetry include Constance (1993), Let Evening Come (1990), The Boat of Quiet Hours (1986), and From Room to Room (1978). In December 1993, she and Donald Hall were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, “A Life Together.” At the time of her death from leukemia, in April 1995, Jane Kenyon was New Hampshire’s poet laureate.

Photo: Jane Kenyon, late 1980s.