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

Charged

suddenly my life feels
like the air before a storm
silent, searching, charged
an imminent disaster
with destructive beauty
bright sun here and now
dark clouds at my horizon

electrified waiting
a whirlwind of stillness
it’s building, billowing
but to i know not where
and possibly to nothing
no body to forecast
whether or whether not
my future lies ahead

feeling ghosts in the wind
restlessness & anticipation
i dread this storm
but somehow
more than that
i welcome it, ache for it

oh i sorely need to become
sodden, grounded
struggle bedraggled
so i can revive
regrow vibrant —

dead branches torn away
old beliefs ripped from roots
worry whipped to shreds
powerful bolts striking
stronger than anything
i can create myself

blind me — enflame my entire sky
i want to look at the world anew
and that starts
with my own vision
i’m ready
for a new version

my being has become torrential
yet minimal — nearly imperceptible
not yet in a crisis, still
i’m bordering one, circling it
crying out for that flash point
beckoning it, to break —
to shatter my former self
and my current nothingness
into a mended calm
risen from the storm

rain, gales, hail —
i don’t care
just let it come
i need to be reborn
from the wild remains
of my inner tempests —
no, i do not want to die
but only to live again

—Terri Guillemets

Alarm ringing true

There was time —
I know there was —
saw it spread out
all ahead of me,
a beautiful infinity —
immortal fresh-faced
clock of opportunity —
numberless, handless
no ticks & no tocks
save for the sound
of distant decades
too quiet to really hear —
but at forty-eight years
a sudden gear-grinding
cacophony, the outspread
blanket of eternity
has begun to suffocate,
wrapped around me
limiting my agility
darkening my path —
I’m having trouble
breathing, I no longer
see that clock open
or free, its movements
now deafen me, its hands
tear into my flesh and
grip tight my throat —
I am choking on
second thoughts
at this midlife hour
this day of reckoning

—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

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

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

My heart sees all the better

my eyes can’t see as well anymore
but my heart sees all the better

my ears have begun to fail me
but I hear the quiet budding of success

I move more slowly now
but have learned to be still with myself

my aching body is stiff and sore
but my spirit has never felt so fine

my memory is slipping
but I’ve got a firm grip on what it is to live

my head is going gray
but I have found all my true colors

I get out of bed earlier
but still have plenty of dreams

I live more softly
but don’t back down from doing hard things

my teeth are getting artificially replaced
but my soul is real and all my own

my bones are brittle
but my resolve is strong

I no longer bounce back
but continue to look forward

I tell the same stories over and again
but become a new me every day

I’m nearer to the end
yet I have only just begun

—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