Not All of Me Is Old

WritersJuly

By Judith Dancy

During all those years that led me to today,
I was sure there’d be a turning point
at which the girl – and yes, the woman, too –
I once had been would inter herself
within the wrinkles of my body and my brain.
So buried,
she would not disturb an old lady’s thoughts
or existence
with her insistence on
dreams and desire not fading
despite being tucked into places I would  no longer go.

I wondered if I’d notice when I became like those
old women in comfortable shoes, and hair
for convenience sake, tightly permed and
grayer than it had to be.
How comfortable they must be,
I thought,
their yearning and desire turned to dust after all those years.
Perhaps that’s how you think of me.
My body does look much like theirs.
And no one ever thinks to ask if there is more
inside, in places that they cannot see.

Judith Dancy is a retired Quaker pastor. She likes to think and write about the ways we humans engage each other and our world.

Butler

By Shelby Stephenson

A short-haired, red-bone hound, he was the king

of my father’s big kennel; he would moan

the blues and lead the pack, then woof the spring

chickens off their roost into fields at dawn.

The fox-race on, he’d run Big Red and sing

as if his voice were a body, its own,

at last coming round to set him apart

from those dogs that moiled and howled to go back

where the fox was jumped, or, better still, dart

and shake and whimper to smell the strung-sack

we filled with fox-hide; Butler was that smart

dog that would chase the fox all morn and track

the “devilish possum” to a tree at night.

I marked his grave with a stalk when he died.

Shelby Stephenson is the Poet Laureate of North Carolina and was the guest presenter at the recent Second Spring Arts Festival. He lives at the home place where he was born, near McGee’s Crossroads, near Benson, N.C. This poem is from his most recent book, “Elegies for Small Game,” published by Press 53. Visit his website at: www.shelbystephenson.com.

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