You’re old enough to flinch
when they mangle Alzheimer’s to old-timer’s.
People give advice about people like you, urge
trying out chair yoga, making new friends.
You can garden in boxes,
set up an herb garden,
parsley or sage, rosemary and thyme.
You remember hiking the pass
over Baldy, the John Muir Trail,
attaining the other side of the mountain.
Your wife cultivates a smaller patch, applying
gray water, red vitamins, mounds of mulch
to slow down the using up, the parching out.
You watch the finches splashing the birdbath dry.
Trade the finches now for woodpeckers feasting
on new grubs in dead wood.
Trade green shade for silvery leaves, two-day cactus flowers
revealing their short-lived pure silk petals.
You see the true nature of xeriscape
unmasked as zeroscape. Evergreen oldies twist
in your head. Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Already you have traded walking for your walker.
Springy green grass surged, treacherous
under your suddenly tentative feet,
prickly, crunching. You miss new green,
new as apertures in the air, new-minted light.
You’ve traded limber branches, spendthrift sprays of buds,
for lab results, for call buttons. For sticks.
is a retired clinical psychologist, former German major and restaurant reviewer, and two-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Her first full sentence was, “Look at the moon!” Poems have appeared in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, B O D Y, CHEST, Spillway, and Rappahannock Poetry Review. Her collections include The Book of Knots and Their Untying (Kelsay Books, 2016), and three chapbooks from Kattywompus Press: Burrowing Song (2013), Eggs Satori (2014), and Kafka’s Cat (2019). She is currently working on a collection of poems about her husband’s illness and death of lung cancer in 2018. She co-curates Fourth Sundays, a poetry series in Claremont, California.