Spiraling

midlife changes curled-up
forties are fiddlehead ferns
it doesn’t look like much
until it becomes unfurled
and once we get it open
things may break apart —
eventually nests unwind
but will we bear fortitude
to turn that new life into
something just as beautiful
and yet even more free
spiraling towards fifty?

—Terri Guillemets

Alteration

she sees west
glances north
east goes past in a blur
south appears
and she wobbles —

this is not exploration
it’s spinning —
the gentle rotation
of youth
has accelerated
out of control —

middle age, presbyopia
gray hairs speed by
dizzied by menopause —
motion, sickness
rapid changes kicking
out the support
from under her

she has a stand to take
but cannot make it
she’s fallen & can’t get up
it’s too far down too fast
she needs to rest —

here she sits — still
nauseous, unsteady
invisible, irrelevant
dried-up and empty

no map, and broken
compass — vulnerable
existing inside out
with seams showing —
tired, thready, torn

—Terri Guillemets

Ægrimonia

i’ve got blood in my anger
and sorrow in my veins
worry runs through me
it’s nonstop insane
my heart is clogged up
with obsessions and pains
dear lord unconfuse me
i’m crippled in vain
my body’s too toxic
unsteady i walk
with fear as my cane
will ill-thoughts kill me
they’ve poisoned my brain

—Terri Guillemets

Riven

joyful forty, forty-one
it was just getting good
i was just getting started
and then cruel life
dealt blow after blow
for year after year
with death and strife
thieving my calm
and ova and sight
healers and patches
blessed the rocky way
but nothing’s the same —
what of me remains?
stitches and fray

—Terri Guillemets

Existing

I wanted to write
      a book of poetry
but it’s already written;
      those poems —
red, throbbing, beating —
      are just trying to
            make their way
                  to the paper

—Terri Guillemets

Weighed down

the scale now shows me
one hundred sixty-eight
but in those simple digits
I see rejection and pain
sugar, laziness, exhaustion
hormones splayed out of whack
menopause ready to rumble
plaque buildup and repressions
anxiety, regret, some depression
the past, the future, sheer panic
tension, disoriented expectations
ice cream, sweet junk addictions
griefs, hurts, disappointments
bad habits, cliffs, fear, falling
the eating of all my emotions
gluttony and gorging ghosts
turbulent raging blood glucose
sleepless nights, too-busy days
nerves, toxins, worry, age
unwelcome rapid-fire change
lack of trying, trying too hard
loss of control, culinary excesses
no longer fitting into my dresses

—Terri Guillemets