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Navigating Your Life

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


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