Aubade for Aging

How restless I am in the silver world
that does not seem to need me,
because I am no longer convinced
I need it.  Not despair but a feeling
somehow cleaner—like when you
sweep a dusty wooden floor, then scrub
to reveal the grain. Death now a kind of road—
like Highway 10 North to Albuquerque,
where you pass through low hoodoos
to reach a wide gray plain where the
single juniper seems to hold the only
promise of survival: one piece of bluish
shade. I like the old name this road had—
“A day’s long journey of a dead man.”
I can picture that journey—a series of
of parties, melancholic parades–all
that opens in a breath and then snaps
shut.  I am often found floating
face-down in the past, where I can speak
to those I loved. These memories, at times
intricate as watch works; yet rusted,
the music box that no longer knows how
to sing. I am told such fading is chemical:
the brain fires and loses its way.
What returns—like voices over water,
a trembling added to their trembling.


Sheila Black’s most recent collection is Radium Dream newly released from Salmon Poetry, Ireland. Poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Kenyon Review Online, Blackbird, The Birmingham Review. The New York Times, and elsewhere. She is a co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011), named a Notable Book for Adults for 2012 by the American Library Association. She is a cofounder and Executive Director of Zoeglossia, a non-profit to build community for poets with disabilities.