Monday, June 21, 2010

Old, Older, Oldest

Poem of the Day:
"Salute" by James Schuyler
Fifty Years of American Poetry


Past is past, and if one
remembers what one meant
to do and never did, is
not to have thought to do
enough? Like that gather-
ing of one of each I
planned, to gather one
of each kind of clover,
daisy, paintbrush that
grew in that field
the cabin stood in and
study them one afternoon
before they wilted. Past
is past; I salute
that various field.

Tonight my housemate Dan remarked upon old people and how they remind him of death; this was after I had successfully attended a monthly book club held at the Boston Public Library. Among the crowd (5 women) were Kitty and Dorothy, my new favorite women and future gal pals. They both have about sixty years on me, but since I've begun to gray at the roots I find it hard to discern much of a difference between us. Dorothy may have a bum hip, but I've got a lousy knee. I see your thinning hair Kitty and I raise you cracking bones.

Schuyler writes of a life at the last of its breaths; the sole focus of a poem is likely to be the past if the speaker foresees no future. Schuyler's tone invokes pity. In the final line it becomes clear that he has "various field[s]," all well-intentioned and imagined 'pasts,' but essentially pasts that never occurred. Do all people do this at the close of their lives, fool themselves into fashioned memories?

Kitty and Dorothy brought Schuyler back to me at our 7 PM book discussion. They are old women, and I wonder what they have chosen to keep or manufacture into remembrance. I suppose that if one passes away with a clear mind then that is all that can be asked of life, be it assembled or rigidly true.

A Poem A Day Audrey


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