Mirror, Mirror

Many times he had visited his son and family
in rural Vermont
often in the fall, when the color was high.
This time, he’d missed it by a few weeks,
but everything else
was the same:

The back roads winding through the maple trees,
the trees these days connected
by colorful plastic tubing,
to bring the sap to a gathering trough.
Eight cords of wood neatly stacked under the porch,
cut to size.

The home’s interior familiar, too:
books and magazines neatly stacked,
the ample kitchen and the big dining table
where conversation is often the deepest,
and the happiest,
still the soul of the place.

Upstairs, though, something had changed.
He noticed it when he started to shave.
To view his full face in the mirror
he had to stand on tiptoe.
The mirror above the wash basin had been raised—
his first reflection.
The second, close behind, was a hard truth:

Since his last visit
his aging body had shrunk some more,
gravity pulling him ever home.


Endnote: This poem is pretty straightforward, speaking to my awareness of bodily changes as I get older. The changes are coming fast as I enter the beginning of my 91st year, my legs changing shape, the gait of my walk different in some way with a noticeable effort to stand erect, skin surfaces on inner arms and thighs becoming parchment-like, the rest of my body, roughened with dry patches and little, inexplicable growths that not even a stone can smooth out and then occasional skin cancers which must be removed periodically. But height is a big one: from 5’ 7 1/2” to 5’ 4 1/2” over the years, a loss of 3 inches when I wasn’t average height to begin with.

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