How about you? And do you ever wonder what you'll be like in 20 or 30 years time? It's difficult enough to feel any real connection to the child, girl or young woman who stares out at me from old photos so to imagine what and who I might be in the future feels like an impossible task. Perhaps I should have a go at one of those 'ageing' apps you see on Facebook and on people's mobile phones!
The danger of writing poems about getting older is that they might sound sentimental, even self-indulgent if we write about ourselves. How do we explore the personal and particular but make it universal, make it something that matters to other people? Philip Schultz talks about age in this poem:
My bones aren't what they used to be; my eyes ache,
as if I've been reading an ancient text by candlelight.
My back and knees creak. I'm happy if the car starts
and I can walk the dogs along the ocean which looks
a little less robust. It replenishes itself with stretching
and long cleansing breaths. The sun is another story.
It's beginning to show its age. Perhaps we've enjoyed
enough springs and everything is getting a little redundant.
from Living in the Past - Available via Amazon
Harcourt, Inc., 2004
|Co-winner of the 2008|
I like how he links ageing to the planet - what he notices about the sea, the sun. Do you think the last sentence is a little defeatist, or is it philosophical? Why should we expect our planet to last forever? And this is one of the thoughts I leave the poem with rather than just thinking about the narrator's own experience.
There's one phrase in the poem that makes me smile: I'm happy if the car starts/ Me too! Do we expect less as we get older? Or do we learn gratitude? Again, I'm prompted to reflect on particular ideas that are implicit in the poem but take me outside of it too.
Write your own age poem, using the above poem as a model, or stretching out in your own direction. But be careful, you don't want to put your back out : )