Old Age in the Arms of the New

I watch the people in the window walk
and wonder why it is that some are old
and waiting for the end when they are young.
What kind of virus causes life to end
while bodies still are healthy, full of life?
Is there a germ that settles in the gut
and defecates a toxic waste the brain
absorbs; that says forget about your life.
You’re old.  There’s nothing more to live for.  Die!
A friend, on turning fifty, told me she
was feeling like her life was over, life
had passed her by, and she was young enough
to be my kid.  A former student, old
at thirty-five remarked, “My life is fine.”
but as she talked I wondered what she meant
by “fine.”  She didn’t seem to have a life.
She had the trappings: kids, a husband, work;
but she was an automaton, a ghost
inhabiting a body still alive.

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