Oft turns the ageing mind to Frances
Waldman's blunt query, back seat of full taxi,
Riding downtown, that chill February,
To young Angelica: "Maybe marrying
Him seems like a good idea now, but where
Will it leave you in forty years?" Being there
Herself, she should have known: old. Low blow, Frances!
The minds of the old are dirty, dirty
With the pained truth of all those years. Old, one grows,
At least in the opinion of strangers,
Ever less loveable (fact of nature), and so,
It follows, ever less easily loved--
Yet still, old does not so easily
Surrender the capacity to love
Nor the need to be loved. If anything
These things increase as one ages, somewhat
Inconveniently let it be said.
No one young likes to think of love among
The old. Consider the film Cloud Nine
In which seventy-somethings conduct
A none-too-discreet affair: things get sloppy,
No fleshy detail's spared us. Would you
O reader, not yet superannuated,
Wish to look away? En route to dust, let us
Guard and preserve, if not our virginity
(Pace Andrew Marvell), then our privacy.
Let's not talk about dignity, only wild
Creatures get to maintain that. And of course
As I'm writing this, Smokey the cat
Fastidiously scours his private parts with
Busy tongue. Animals, unlike us, are clean.
Young, the parts that interested one
Most in books and movies were the dirty ones.