I Give You Fair Warning…

This Sunday morning, after nine hours in the emergency room Friday and a day of recovering Saturday, I am thinking about age and about who we become. I have been reminded of a quote from Joseph Campbell: “I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” I remembered this poem, which I wrote some years ago, and I’m checking my list just to see where I am.

When I grow old, really old,
I shall be eccentrik.
I shall wear long silken skirts
that sweep in the dust
and keep Abyssinian cats.

I shall speak clearly to the cats, of course,
but to other people I shall speak
only in symbols, codes and cryptograms,
and let them think
that they understand.

I shan’t knit.

My garden will be wild and rich, and
I shall plant tall stones
in suitable places. I shall make
potions of flowers and light,
and I shall keep bees.

With my knobby old knees
and sagging breasts, I shall
dance naked under the Moon,
and I shall sing to Her
with the cats.

I shall carry a blackthorn stick,
and frighten small boys away from my apples –
they’ll like that —
and I’ll tell tales of the goddess
to small girls so they will know who they are.

I shall say outrageous true things
to people, anyone at all,
and make waterfalls and small pools
in wild places.

I shall have a deep, deep well of silence
in myself, and it will fill
with the love flowing through me
like a wild underground river.  My hair
will be very white and unmanageable –
rather like a dandelion.  My roots
will grow to the heart
of the Earth, and the horned god
will be a personal friend of mine.

That was then; this is now:
I don’t have the bees,
though I still want them,
and god/dess knows, they need
all the help they can get.
I have the dandelion effect
well in hand — it was inevitable
and I deserve neither credit nor blame —
but all the rest
is a work in progress.
I can say that I truly
have and I am
alive and gratefully
overflowing.

Photograph © 2011 by Tom Linton. All rights reserved.
Poem © 1988 & 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

9 thoughts on “I Give You Fair Warning…

  1. I love you’re poem. I must have read it before on one of your pages. So sorry to hear about your recent stint in the emergency room.

    1. Cheryl, I think I included it in one of my books — might have been Moon Over Water or Sun Over Mountain. It might even have been The Faeries’ Oracle. I was too lazy to go looking for it. 😉 I’m doing well now, thank you!

  2. Why wait? Bad question. I know you didn’t wait. Some bits of the old perspective have been replaced, but the principal is still valid and you are living it quite attractively.

    1. Jerry, When I was in my early twenties at a family gathering watching my two grandmothers Being Themselves, I thought, “I want to be like that when I get old.” And they I wondered just what you said — why wait? So I tried not to. But some of it just has to be grown into… I love seeing you and Molly doing something similar as a couple and as individuals. Very encouraging!

  3. You stay out of that Emergency Room, you hear?!!! Now that the admonition is out of the way – tooooooootally luff the poem! The bees shall come, perhaps of their own accord.

    1. Judith, good for you! Sometimes I feel like cats are the only people who totally understand what I mean, even when I’ve said it wrong. And I do have Abys, and Manx as well. The Manx were also a wise, though inevitable choice.

  4. I love the poem, I love your views on life, I love your work, and I love that tree! <3 I don't love you needed to visit the emergency room, though! Wishing you sparkling good health and friendly bees for your garden…

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