You will walk toward the mirror,
closer and closer, then flow
into the glass. You will disappear
some day like that, being
more real, more true, at the last.
You learn what you are, but slowly,
a child, a woman, a man,
a self often shattered, and pieces
put together again till the end:
you halt, the glass opens —
A surface, an image, a past.
The above poem is dog-eared in my much loved and read ‘The Way It Is’ book of poetry by William Stafford. Written just two years before his death in 1993, “Your Life” is, to me, a beautifully distilled awareness of how one’s elder years can be approached. Not with fear or trepidation, but with a calm, slowing down acceptance of one’s place on this great spinning earth.
“a self often shattered, and pieces
put together again till the end:”
These are not bleak words. These lines speak most truthfully of the lives of nearly everyone I know; including myself.
And shouldn’t we all stand proud? Scar tissue identifying brave souls who have weathered, matured and blossomed? More real, more true at the last?
It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.
It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out — no guarantees
in this life.
But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
Like this lemon blossom.
Or, like these two lemons I saw this very morning on the tree I planted in my garden two years ago. One, tiny and young; the other, big, about to ripen into a final burst of yellow.