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