Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 29: Feeling a Little Old, Elizabeth Alexander, "Autumn Passage"

I am feeling a little . . . old today.  I think it has a lot to do with work and grading and responsibility.  In a couple hours, I have sixteen young people waiting for me to walk into a classroom and somehow teach them something about life.

The problem is that I haven't really figured out life.  I don't want to tell my students that, though.  It may scare the shit out of them.  They're going to have to discover that little piece of knowledge on their own.  Right now, they're full of hope.  They think that the world revolves around them.  I know.  That's what I used to think when I was their age.  I thought that I was going to make a real difference.  A big difference.  That's not the way things turned out. 

I hope I've made the world a little better with my teaching and writing and parenting and husbanding.  I hope that I've led a George Bailey kind of life.  Small contributions to the human story.  That would be okay by me.

Saint Marty has had, for the most part, a wonderful life.

Autumn Passage

by:  Elizabeth Alexander

On suffering, which is real.
On the mouth that never closes,
the air that dries the mouth.
On the miraculous dying body,
its greens and purples.
On the beauty of hair itself.
On the dazzling toddler:
"Like eggplant," he says,
when you say "Vegetable,"
"Chrysanthemum" to "Flower."
On his grandmother's suffering, larger
than vanished skyscrapers,
September zucchini,
other things too big. For her glory
that goes along with it,
glory of grown children's vigil,
communal fealty, glory
of the body that operates
even as it falls apart, the body
that can no longer even make fever
but nonetheless burns
florid and bright and magnificent
as it dims, as it shrinks,
as it turns to something else.

Merry Christmas, you wonderful old building and loan!

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