Our senior moments
My Father Crosses eats, his physical abilities and failings, even what’s happening on his computer screen; and how he feels about all of this. From his office window he looks down on a construction site, the disturbed earth a reminder of mortality, but also a place of fecundity, though in Lehmann’s urban setting fecundity means the blooming of the sound and light of construction work, rather than a pastoral blossoming.
Charlotte Clutterbuck’s uses the extended conceit Tricky Arithmetic of mathematical equations to describe what could be called a love triangle, though the poem ensures that the situation seems anything but cliched.
Vera Newsom writes of an old age that brings keen enjoyment in her poem Paradox: “Young, we love, grasp / consume. Old, we savour. / And the taste sends us wild.”
Gwen Harwood captures the littleness and bigness of the parent-child relationship in her breathtaking poem Mother Who Gave Me Life. Dorothy Porter’s poem Waterview Street discovers the transience of individual experience. Brook Emery hovers on the edge of transcendence, called back by the warm physicality of a grandchild, with “tangled hair … orange as a mimic sun”, their shared joy in the world and one another surely transcendence enough.
Susan Hampton shows that sometimes wisdom is about questions, not answers, in Banquet of the Invisibles, while Julie Chevalier’s The Fall reminds us that it’s never too late for romance. Carol Jenkins’s Birth Cohort has fun with the idea of shared generational experience, and Alex Skovron raises a laugh from the dead in Some Precepts of Postmodern Mourning.
Many of these poems face hard things, some include moments of intense enjoyment, some are deliciously funny.
Other poets are even bold enough to treat ageing as something apart from an intractable problem. To hint at the idea that human beings, a species that has evolved to include grandparents, might benefit from having elders.
is a poet and author.