Meditation on This Stage of Life

I am old now.
I like it.
I don’t mind the memory gaps:
they diminish the importance of self
and dim the rush of time.
What I don’t like is
losing words and phrases
as if in preparation for something
I don’t remember agreeing to.

Floors become treacherous,
stairs fearsome,
doors get in the way and
things rebel and will not be picked up.
Can’t say I enjoy being clumsy again,
stumbling through these last years
like some daft teenager.

We play children’s games now,
being too tired for work.
Sometimes I wonder about that.
Mostly I just play games
and find that the eternal human quest for meaning
is well served by softball.

Diminishing expectations
have their virtues.
I can stop running now;
there is nowhere to go.
I can stop working;
I’ve done my share
with fifty years of hard labour,
having seen it is the community
not this or any individual
that makes the world a good place.

Sometimes I look at pictures
of people now dead.
I talk to them, sometimes.
High tolerance for pain now.
Hardly any surprises any more,
although there are some
about the many ways god finds
to torment suffering humanity.

Anger diffused now
into bemusement or mild indignation.
Bitterness sinks down
below memory of joy
and satisfying work
like weeds disappearing
in the compost.

I am blissed now
by sunsets and snow,
the miracle of plants,
all the people I know
and their grandchildren.

I am old now:
everything important happened
a long time ago.

And as my body slowly dries out
and senses fade,
views and sounds disappear
into dim half known shadows.
The assistance of mechanical aids
is invaluable
although limited in scope and imagination.
And every day and every day
I lose a little and then
a little more
along with the friends
once vital and supple and round
and filled with blood,
now creaking along slower than me
or rotting in graves
where all mortals end one day
no matter how beautiful and graceful
were our lives.

Still the grass is green
and the flowers sweet;
and there is time to contemplate
that which passed in a blur
so long ago.

I am old now.
I like it.

Helen Potrebenko
January, 2011

3 Responses to “Meditation on This Stage of Life”

  1. Sarah Jane Penney Says:

    I found one of your books of poetry “Walking Slow.” in a used book store in St. John’s. I bought it for a friend. I think your writing is brilliant. I think you are sharp and beautiful.

    Thanks for sticking up for women.


  2. E. ZAAG Says:

    You are brilliant and ANAKANA SCHOFIELD From in the Irish Times thinks so too
    Her favourite fictional character is “Shannon in Taxi by Helen Potrebenko, a 70s feminist, Vancouver novel, I Like her polemics while she is driving her taxi and navigating the streets”
    You are the bomb, Helen!

  3. Bala Says:

    This was a wonderful read considering I have just discovered your book Taxi!. Thank you.

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