When I Am Old

When I am old, I’ll have had my fill of beds, couches, chairs, the underwater hibernation of cavernous sleep. I’ll have had enough of the body’s honesty and the mind’s betrayals.

When I am old I will leap up unexpectedly, so fully rested that the last shooting star of vitality will pass over my face, the memory of youth searing my eyes with its virile flame, scorching my solar plexus. I’ll escape my caretaker (if I’m lucky enough to have one), and slip off to Florida where I can soak in the warm saltwater and hear southern girls talk. I’ll hop a flight to Barcelona and see the masquerade-mask balconies, sit at a sidewalk café in Rome with my ten-mile stare, stop in Vietnam and stand in the emerald brilliance of a rice field. In Africa, the treetops will sway differently than what I’m accustomed to. In Tahiti, the sand grains will pepper my thighs. In Egypt, thousands of mosquitoes will be feasted upon by swarms of bats as I sit and savor rich golden couscous and sticky dates from Morocco.

When I am old, I’ll lay down on a grassy slope as the summer evening comes on, and long for the warm familiarity of you, thinking of the way you entered all the cells of my body and stayed there. Venus will be there, and the North Star, and the Moon of course, and the fireflies with their luminous silence.

When I am old, I’ll be wondering why I’m still here when everyone else has gone.  I’ll avoid mirrors and my reflection in shop windows, too weary of my appearance to steal a glance. I’ll inspect my food as if it were an alien substance. I’ll recall the world I grew up in as a lost one, and I’ll be a castaway in this new and different world.

When I am old, a gentle breeze will pick up and the light in me will go out. It will be my turn to discover whether or not you get to see everyone again, my turn to find out what happens next, after a lifetime of wondering.


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