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Alan Britt

Growing Old


Pastel sky.

Delicate clouds, yes,
like puffs of pipe smoke
from a thousand-year-old
fairy tale.

When I was younger
I could dive into the soft blue.
But now, I simply
don’t have the energy.

I can’t borrow the required anger from Baudelaire,
or employ the impossible precision of Mallarmé.

I no longer know how to get there.

Maybe I don’t want to get there.
Maybe I don’t want to disappear
into the void.
Maybe I’m too lazy,
or maybe I’m too curious
& I find more joy
in a robin igniting the end
of a faded tomato stake.

I can talk to the robin
& he listens.
He tolerates my intrusion
into his hunt for worms.

He returns,
over & over,
over & over.

I say the same thing
each time
in a bird language
I’ve learned
from catbirds, finches, cardinals,
& glorious mockingbirds.

The robin tolerates my existence.
Perhaps he’s even curious,
by the way he twists his head
at angles
that connect my solitude
with his routine.

I no longer have a routine.
I’ve lived long enough
to discover something beyond
my pitiful self,
my pathetic cravings.
I’ve outlived the routine
I inherited a lifetime ago.

Much to my surprise.

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