When I am not with him,
He dwells on the questions,
The hazards and uncertainties
Of his aging.

It’s understandable,
These are the questions
That lurk behind the days
Of most of us past our third,
Or fourth,
Or fifth decades,
All the more weighty
For those
With more decades than that.

When I am with him,
His conversation is not that
Of a man nearing the end,
Breaking down,
Fading away.

We talk about many things,
And nothing,
And his words are lively,
And filled with the relevant wisdoms
That only come from so many years
Of living with the world,

Of living with sons,
And wives,
And daughters,
And jobs,
And bureaucracies,
And animals,
And mothers,
And fathers,
And dilemmas,
And joys,
And doubts.

But when I am not with him,
He worries for his balance,
And for his teeth.

He worries about his impending
‘End of Life’
About how it will go for him
When it comes,
And how he can provide for it now
To not be a burden,
To not suffer

But more,
I think,
He worries for his place in the world
Before he goes,
In light of his declining abilities

And sometimes he worries
About his importance
To a woman
Who is not young
But not old either,
A woman who still lives
With the responsibilities
That he has been able to shed,
Who’s time is frantic
And limited.

And what he doesn’t see
In his solitary times,
The times when I am not with him,
Is that the hours spent
Sharing discussion of heavy things
And the weather,
Of writing topics,
And belief systems,
And gossip,
It is in those hours
That the woman finds respite
The briefest of breaths
In a cool and quiet place,
The smallest
Of deep soaks
In the refreshing pool
Of his friendship,

When I am with him.

©2016 Annette Meserve

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