To Sixty

by Elizabeth Volpe

At this junction between old
and really old, a mere step between the salsa
and the waltz, the three-inch heel
and the pump, you’re a shadow I can’t shake,
even in the shade. I feel you
in my fingers and my knees, hear you
in the wheezings of the wind,
the joint-crackings of ancient branches, see you
in the way morning unclenches,
making me feel bruised.

These days I wear risk like a flak jacket.

I see you in the crow perched on the neighborhood
jungle gym. At first I thought it was a child,
black-jacketed, sleeves flapping. Who are we
without our illusions?

I never thought I’d admit to
laughing with my legs closed, preferring footbaths
to rollerblading. So what if my skin hangs
like old wallpaper, if my children have never heard
of canasta or pedal pushers, if my prescriptions
are delivered in bulk from UPS.
Elasticity? I used to have it,
now I wear it.

Sixty, I’ve got to hand it to you. You do know how
to milk the publicity teat. Time’s cover story
this week tells us to make peace with aging.
You’ve got to be kidding. Peace?
I picture a long table with you on one side
and me on the other, God standing at the head
looking like Henry Kissinger. No one understands
a thing he says so it’s weeks before we agree
on anything. When the negotiations finally begin,
I propose coffee, but you hold out for green tea.
I suggest bagels, you counter with prunes. Okay,
you win. Don’t worry, this is not going to be
a stormy settlement. I know when I’m outnumbered.
Forget munition dumps, demilitarized zones. Just let me
get my knitting basket, and I’ll come quietly.