Waking At Fifty
Show me a man who sleeps to be miserable,
I'll show you myself
the story isn't easy,
grown into my own soliloquy
I've become a face beside a face
waiting for the ferry.
I tell myself it's all right,
all faces become one
in their fall after fifty:
others gone ahead will offer tea
and a good deal of forgetting.
I wake up to a bed half empty.
My lover of last night
has become mother downstairs
in a conspiracy of children
who think birthdays are fun
for someone who seems undone.
Down the stairs I pretend not to remember
the lantern that flashed red
by the gates of my clear dream,
Charon's hooded whistle,
the silent boat rocking alone,
all hands blossoming into waves,
for those love gathered downstairs
are gigling with ribbons,
ask if I slept well,
do I remember it's May?
My daughters give me candy bars,
my son shaving brush, face mask,
my wife, hair growing treatment—
gifts that a middle aged man
must truly need—
sweetness, clear conscience,
the pardonable chance
to believe in miracles.
sullen goats grazing on emptiness
drift mutely to the other side of day.
The sun has cast his mid-day net
but doesn't move
to pull in the catch—
two stink bugs stiff after love,
a towhee dozing over the patch of impatiens.
Stillness is making its point,
the wind plays dead.