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

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

I accept you

Okay — I give in — I accept you — Middle Age
I am tired — I want to sit down — unrushed —
to read — and drink hot tea — and — Breathe
the number of years behind me — and ahead of me —
no longer concern me — mathematically or emotionally
I have come to rest in the sturdy arms of the Present —
where Time has been waiting for me — my whole Life

—Terri Guillemets

Battery

my youth is caked over
with heartache and pains
regrets and inflammations
and sudden calcifications
of ligaments and spirit
not-bothers and defeats
that went to my head
and bruises that take
too long to heal
cracked teeth and
why-tries and i’m-tireds

that which galloped
now rolls in ruts
my blonde has passed
to mousy and gray —
everyone i know
looks tired and frayed
sagging from the weight
of time and overbusy
and too much stuff
in too-big houses —
it’s too much life
and too little living —
no vitamines will fix this

—Terri Guillemets

Midlife midriff

Eating a lot of garbage and dessert-obsessive
for several months, I put on a few pounds
      — and more.

Waddling is hell, and fat is a problem for the heart
      — I’m hungry & in pain.

Waist weight is a cruel joke, and age is no help.

—Terri Guillemets

scrambled blackout poetry created from David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day, 2000, pages 136–139

Ode to middle age

How like a lovely autumn morning,
      serene middle age —
a sanctuary of mind, a chapel;
the age of faith on a deep foundation,
      and the age of reason;
silver fellowships, libraries and deep reflection,
wine, liberty, a milder manifestation of the soul;
brilliance upon our lips, more profound, subtle;
the rich flame of the good life, how sweet —
      listening to the murmur of change

—Terri Guillemets

blackout poetry created from Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, 1929, Grafton paperback, 1977, pages 11–16

Counting up

First four decades time’s a hero
Then stops suddenly all the fun
Forty arrives a stranger new
But life is like a grand old tree
Strong yet flexible at the core
Roots ever deepen to stay alive
At this age there’s no real fix
Just patches is all, ’til heaven
Although it still be not too late
So let the autumn soul shine
Breathe and let thy life go zen

—Terri Guillemets