Years – Planting by Cinda Thompson

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This poem can be found in the anthology “When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple” edited by Sandra Martz.

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Planting
by Cinda Thompson

Two
Old people work
Side by side
She wears a hat
The old man boasts
No hair at all
She moves
And he kneels
He digs
And she nods while
He speaks
To the seed
She ardently covers
Row by row
They rise and bend
Over their garden
On earth
Sunflowers will bloom
Toward
Late summer

Years – Love at Fifty by Marcia Woodruff

love birds

This poem can be found in the anthology “When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple” edited by Sandra Martz.

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Love at Fifty
by Marcia Woodruff

We come together shy as virgins
with neither beauty nor innocence
to cover our nakedness, only
these bodies which have served us well
to offer each other.

At twenty we would have dressed each other
in fantasy, draping over the damp flesh,
or turned one another into mirrors
so we could make love to ourselves.

But there is no mistaking us now.
Our eyes are sadder and wiser
as I finger the scar on your shoulder
where the pin went in,
and you touch the silver marks on my belly,
loose from childbearing.

“We are real,” you say, and so we are,
standing here in our simple flesh
whereon our complicated histories are written,
our bodies turning into gifts
at the touch of our hands.

Years – Survived By His Wife by Margaret Flanagan Eicher

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This poem can be found in the anthology “When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple” edited by Sandra Martz.

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Survived By His Wife
by Margaret Flanagan Eicher

Eyes swollen she lay in their bed —
Head covered, legs drawn up,
cold though her forehead was damp —
who had warmed herself on his warm flesh.

Now his absence was a constant companion:
his hairbrushes, his keys,
his clothes still smelling of him
in his closet, covered, like museum artifacts.

She shuddered, remembering the shoes he wore
were still beneath the bed
exactly as he left them,
as if covered by a glass case.

All of the things he had handled,
used, inhabited, and finally left
were covered or lying about
like the frames of stolen paintings left behind.

Years

Wearing Colors

My youngest sister just celebrated one of those landmark birthdays, the last of my four sibs to cross that line.  I expected it to make me feel older, but it really hasn’t. I look at each of them and see  how beautiful they are – each vibrant and young in their own way. And I’m not THAT much older…relatively…

When I had this particular birthday my baby sister sent me a red hat in a beautiful old-fashioned, rose-covered hat box. It was a joke and I loved it. I still looked young and felt even younger. That sweet, silly, extravagant hat has been sitting in wait for my sister to join me in this decade, which we will share for the next year, until it’s time for me to leave it behind.

I bought her a purple shirt to go with the red hat. The shirt, I must add, is a lightweight wicking shirt to be worn as she runs – 5Ks and half marathons – or maybe bikes with her husband across the state in 4 days.  This one is definitely not aging!

To add to the fun, I ordered a copy of that iconic book, “When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple” edited by Sandra Martz. I’ve read the poem, “Warning”,  from which that line originates many times, but didn’t realize it had come to rest in an anthology on women and aging. The book is out of print, so it had to be specially ordered. When it arrived, I opened it in search of that poem, wanting to mark it so that my sister would be sure to see it. A half hour later, I was still standing next to the open Amazon box and reading poem after poem with tears gathering at the corners of my eyes. It is a wonder of language that words have the power to touch places in our hearts and open them wide. I will share a selection of these poems over the next few days.

This first share is more whimsical and I dedicate its presence here to my siblings, Valerie, Linda, Steven, and Catherine. I love you. ❤

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WARNING
by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Words ~ The Desiderata

There are words that stay with us. It is a gift to unwrap them carefully from time to time, hold them gently and breath them in deeply.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

max-ehrmann

Max Ehrmann

Author profile

Max Ehrmann (September 26, 1872 – September 9, 1945), an attorney from Indiana, was best known for writing the prose poem “Desiderata” (Latin: “things desired as essential”) in 1927.Ehrmann, who was of German descent, received a degree in English from DePauw University, followed by a degree in Philosophy from Harvard University. He then returned to his hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana to practice law. Eventually this led him to work in his family’s meatpacking business and in the overalls manufacturing industry. Finally at the age of 41, Ehrmann decided to forget such work and become a writer. At the age of 55 he wrote Desiderata, which achieved fame only after his death.
(excerpted from Good Reads, 10.29.14)