Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Poetry: Maya Angelou

Growing Older By Design

When you see me
Sitting quietly like a sack
Left on a shelf
Don't think I need
Your chattering
I'm listening to myself.

At first the seasons arrive
Slowly dragging themselves
Over our wishes for a hasty departure
Ebbing slowly, staying, hovering
Above our lives
Like heavy clouds
Each threatening to remain
Past its appointed time
Giving way, grudgingly
To another year
Which promises to be even
Slower, more tedious

"Wait two months
Until summer"
Two whole months?
Then summer
Will never come
"Wait two months
Until Christmas"
Two whole months?
Then Christmas
Will never come
Childhood lasts a lifetime
Hear it dragging its drum
Across the floor

Then there is a subtle increase

In the march
We welcome the acceleration
We snap our fingers
And match the tempo,
We are in joint,
This is our time,
Our muscles and bones
Our eyes and skin
Are at last one with
The space we are living in

The heart's steady hum
Quickly changes again
The tempo speeds ahead
Our efforts are vain
To slow down the train
Of life's racing ways
Taking our youth
And shortening our days

They remember our bright plumage
Now thinning and grey
Youth wags its heads
Sadly saying
We have had our day

When you see me walking slowly
And my feet won't find the stair
I will only ask one favor
Don't bring me a rocking chair

The pace has heightened again
And the blood slows
In our veins
Slackened by age
We may stumble
And fumble and fall
We exchanged our place with time
For it races like light
Down a darkened hall

Please stop
Do not pity me
Please hold your sympathy
Understanding if you've got it
Otherwise I will do without it

When you see me moving slower
Don't study and get it wrong
Tired does not mean lazy
And each good bye is not gone

I am the same person
I was back then
A little less hair
A little less chin
Some less lung
And much less wind
I count myself lucky
I can still breathe in.
Hold, stop.
Don't pity me.

Maya Angelou

(Published at the AARP website.)


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