a new stage at my age

I’ve been lucky, I guess,
to live 78 years plus into this age
of unprecedented wonders
& dangers & terrible horrors
with its ever-narrrowing corridors
of better tomorrows, lucky, too,
to have love in my life for & from
my life-partner & sons & daughters-in-law
& grandchildren & some friends
actual & virtual, & a world of the mind
accessible offline & online.

But I’ve reached a new stage
& now I must learn
as i never needed to before
to go slowly into each next moment,
to look where I’m going,
to see where each limb might touch
wherever, whenever I move,
to be aware as never before
of my body’s needs in time & in space
more than of where & when
my mind & my spirit
may want to roam.

My shortness of breath
with the few alvioli left active
after all the smoke i’ve inhaled
means I can no longer run
or swim past where the waves break;
the weakness in my legs
means that for any real distance
i need to walk with a stick,
a three-legged creature at last,
as in the riddle I first heard as a child.

The meds that I’m on
(& thank goodness they’re there
& they keep me alive, & free again
of excruciating itching &/or pain)
bloat my face, no big deal,
repeatedly make new red bruises
on my tissue-thin skin
wherever my limbs just touch,
also no real problem, they’re like
painless abstract tattoos,
but also thin my blood so much
that any minor accidental scrape
strips away skin & starts streams
of bleedings that can take hours
& much attention & multiple dressings
to staunch & to stop
& much extra laundering
of sleeves, trouser-legs, socks
& even sneakers.

slow down, the doctor says, learn to
get into a lower gear, says one of my sons,
take care, people tell me. as usual,
& that too has a new meaning for me,
& I reply, I’m trying, but old habits, as they say,
die hard, & new habits, when you’re older,
are harder to acquire, & I keep on forgetting
to take care, be aware. Maybe writing this
& publishing it will help me remember
better, more often. Meanwhile,
it’s just another thing to bear, while still gay,
still glad to still be here, where life is.










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