Rob Jacques was raised in northern New England and served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam Era. He's a retired technical writer and has taught English at the college level. He currently resides on a rural island in Washington State's Puget Sound, and his poetry has appeared in various literary journals, including Atlanta Review, Ars Medica, Borderlands, Passager, Prairie Schooner, Amsterdam Quarterly, Off the Coast, and Assaracus.
My poem, "70," is how I feel at the moment, having attained that age. As my body wanes, my introspection waxes, and although I wouldn't want to lose the wisdom I've gained from my experiences over the decades, there's still a devilishly wistful 9-year-old boy inside me who wants to have fun doing risky business.
I stood in the cold spot in my heart
from where I could watch everything.
-- Ellen Bass
Time has been for me a river, not a bird,
and it has flowed, not flown, while my flesh
has slowed, wending to my own by-and-by.
I've ridden over time's rapids, its shallow
cataracts, its worst white water hidden by
cataracts in my mind's ever-callow eye.
Age has followed me, for years behind me,
though looking over my shoulder I avoided
eye contact with it, my fears of familiarity
with a presence of whom I'd heard only ill
keeping me hurrying youthfully, ruthfully on
as if it could always be morning, dawn.
As I bleed, my blood appears still as red
as it always has, and my saliva as wet,
my voice the same tenor I had as a teen:
these things belie so much that has fled,
not to mention vigor's disappearance, and yet
my world's words are still deep and keen.
Love is not anonymous. Days aren't bland.
Nights are death's little passages, though
dreams ease the frail ways where I stand.
Crow's feet, skin spots, thinning gray hair,
ailments and indignities as abilities go,
the Unknown awaiting its coming affair:
these superficialities haunt me not at all.
Still of a coffee morning, an afternoon tea,
I ply time's water eddying in what will be,
not so changed, at least not in much degree,
hours now of more moment than years,
space between stars becoming more of me.
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