There’s such a thing as too old, There really is, you confided, And I nodded, willingly enough. (I did not believe, and you knew it.) But I’m older, now, each day closer To understanding, to sight.
I saw darkness fall, shuttering Your sickly eyes, your waiting books. You mourned them silently, As was your way. A sigh here, Another there, the breath Barely audible. (I heard.)
All my friends are dead, You announced, one morning Over coffee, as sunlight striped Photos of all the smiling grands And greats. Then you made a choice: You shook with mirth, and irony.
I adored you in that minute, Your rueful crooked grin, your Belief in the privacy of grief Undimmed by age, by familiar pain, Though you did place withered hands On broken knees, and wince. (I saw.)
Once it was your gift to make a thing From air, or dirt. You spun silk Indoors before ten, outdoors at four. I studied. Chagrined, I discovered I hadn’t inherited your skill or ease. You forgave me then, and later.
You found an old typewriter, set me free. Write a letter, to your dad, You said, Or something else. I chose else. Soon I thrust paper near Your whirling form. You stopped to read. Hmm, you offered, a little pleased.
Much later I found that poem, If one could call it that, Among my father’s papers. You’d Sent it on to him, that very day. Dick, you’d scrawled, This one likes her words.
The September night you lay dying, I drove an unfamiliar route, just So I might reach you in time. But Nearly lost, I registered a voice, My sister’s, choked: I, you, hadn’t made it. I sobbed on the shoulder of I-78.
You were one hundred and one years old When you died, too old for your liking, But not, ever, for ours. Where you live now, Can you be of use? I imagine you so. I watch you wheel from this to that, I watch your busy hands. They fly.