Meeting change and sorrow with grace, appreciation, courage, and sometimes a change in attitude.
Years are measured by the neighborhood,
By its trees and fading paint and aged redwood.
And by the children who say I'm old;
Not in those words, they're not so bold.
They have no need for giggles or cruel taunts
As they race on roller skates to find new haunts;
Little Marta, glasses thick as autumn ice
on the water pail,
Is wearing contacts now
and looking far from frail.
Where her shadow once fell plank-like on the porch
Is cast a silhouette for which boys hold a torch.
She's still intelligent and says hello in passing,
Though it's A+ boys, not A+ grades that she's amassing.
And Bobby, with his bike and paper route
no longer stops; he used to be so cute--.
He'd ask me if the news was good today,
And now if I approach, he looks away.
Ernie, Sarah, Peggy, Steven, Mike:
What happened to your jacks and flame-red trike?
Am I the only one who can remember
the magic of our street, June to September?
Am I alone in saying to the mirror:
Death is just a myth, you mustn't fear Her?
Of course I am, you are too young to analyze
Your lives with anything but shining eyes.
I miss your laughter, miss your trusting smiles,
And pledges made to walkathons, proud trials!
I miss the way it felt to weave you tales
And swear to buy you all, were you for sale.
Now delusion's left me, facts are facts;
And truth is worth the pain that it exacts.
I'm old because you're older; time has shown us
That innocence and youth have both outgrown us.
The neighborhood has changed; you too; and I,
And oddly now I'd rather laugh than cry,
Or cry with laughter as I recollect
The years I lavished love on you unchecked.
A few of you show gently that my graying
Is more a badge of honor than dismaying;
for I have had a hand in your maturing,
And all the best things benefit from curing.
I was part of how you framed your world,
part of answers when the mysteries unfurled.
Secretly I heard you call me Mother
And that game pleased me more than any other.
More than all I miss the sweet design
I drew, so vividly, pretending you were mine
That maybe someday I'd have children, too,
When all I'd ever have was all of you.
April 18, 1984