Saturday, 13 March 2010

Older and Wiser

Today in the Guardian there was no poem of the day. Instead there was a treasure trove of poems commissioned by Carol Ann Duffy on the theme of ageing. Sixteen poets (eleven women and five men) contributed original poems. The poems are wonderful - serious, funny, rich, full of vitality. They reflect the robust confidence that can only be gained from having been round the block a few times, tempered with a wistful fragility and sensitivity which makes each of them very moving. 
I admire Carol Ann Duffy's decision to showcase the talents of these poets and put the topic of ageing on the agenda in this striking way. 
All the poems can be read by following the link above, Linda said I could include her poem here in Marineville - thank you Linda!

Old Flame
He turns my hand in his hand
as if to catch the light,
separating my fingers
to see my rings, one by one.
Questions and answers follow -
country, stones, when, from whom
and then my other hand
because this ritual has been
going on for fifty years
and there are no surprises,
as he counts the parts of me
and the decorations I choose.

But today I wear a bracelet
he has never seen before,
knowing that it's to his taste,
that it will spark new attention
beyond his routine inspection.
Between the larger stones,
sit dashes of orange abalone,
keeping spaces in between
irregular chunks of turquoise.
He fingers them around my wrist
and I'm a girl again, fluttering
through her jewellery and her life

Linda Chase 
born in 1941, is an American poet, living in Manchester, where she set up the Poetry School. The Wedding Spy and Extended Family are published by Carcanet; a new collection is due in autumn 2011.

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