14 May 2014

Senior Poem 2014: Present Tense

When they are old,
you hold their hands—the shaking leather glove hands
of wisdom—
and you hear the things you spent a childhood knowing,
the things too obvious to say.
The things you want your children to hold,
but can’t tell them now
because kids can’t reach them.

When they are old,
the common place is precious,
and the thunder
fades to a pale tinkling of glass.
The eyes are small Bethesda pools
of hope.

When they are old,
they home school you
on lessons like
“the shortest distance between two points”
is the heart,
and “love is an action verb”
that also links.
That “time is relative,”
but we give it least to relatives.

When they are old,
you understand yesterday
more than today.
But there are no words that fit
but “show grace to me.”
Because when they are old,
you realize that we never
learn.  None of us.

But now you are young
with embers of dreams
that can be fanned
or extinguished.
Now you look both
ways before crossing from one stage
of life to another.
Now you wonder who you are behind the
awkward smile of the selfie.

But when they are old,
you find yourself poised between parent earth and child sky,
and you hear them say,

“Take what you can from
Me as fertile soil.
Toughen to be hard,
but not so much to not be tender.”

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