for Sarah and Alan, Maggie and Willa
May in the South is a mellow affair –
how I fling open windows and breathe in the night,
how scented air soothes my skin,
how my house exhales. I let go my grip
and sleep with whispers that drift on the breeze.
I wake to the calls of cardinals and wrens.
The back deck beckons.
I take my mornings outside
where titmice and phoebes sing through the trees.
I crumple up my do-list,
place my age on pause, and waste
whole days dreaming. A gentle rhythm
settles in as new life quickens.
These are the weeks when springtime matures
and I would not leave them lightly.
But I would fly four thousand miles and more –
To be in England when elderberry blooms,
and dog rose decorates embankments.
The England of greenswards, copses and hedgerows,
of white lace flowering the shoulders of roads
that carry me back to my daughter’s home
to slip on the role of grandpa again.
To bask in a baby’s toothless smile
and feel the strength as she squirms for her mum.
To match wits with a cheeky toddler wielding
a mischievous grin. To watch her tussle
then cuddle with dad. To embed in the bustle,
the banter, the tears, the staccato exuberance
of playgrounds and parks. To be the old ‘grampa’
rolling a buggy down paths by the willows
to a bend in the river where cygnets hatch
and hew to the wake of an elegant swan.
As nights chase days, my weeks slip by –
One morning I rise, home to gardenia
beginning to brown in the blaze of a summer
come too soon where I find myself just
another elder again wandering the aisles
of Kroger foraging for what I forgot.