Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Pools

Your thoracic vertebrae
curl in a perfect quarter circle,
in a widow's hump that fits,
so small are you, almost within my hand.
(I've laid you on your side:
you'll never again in this life
lie comfortable on your stomach or your back.)

You'd think I was mocking
if I said you were beautiful, but you are,
ninety years and still undaunted;
if your spine is curled
like the frond of a fern,
and the skin of your shoulders
is like a rind of avocado,
still the skin that never saw the sun
is soft and unblemished, and answers any question
my fingers put to it. Age
takes less than we imagine.

You say it must be hard
to massage an old lady.
deliberately misunderstand, and say that no,
what's hard is weight-lifters
with acres of muscle to get through:
Old ladies, I say, are easy:
this I could do all day.
I let
a hint of mockery stand, let
quotation marks settle around "old ladies."
I am perfectly aware of you as woman,
and no, age neither threatens nor repels me:
I hope to get there myself someday, with luck.

For now
My thumbs walk on the basketball curve
either side of the spinous processes,
sinking gently into the laminal groove,
finding little pools of pain you say
you didn't know were there. And this
is what everyone says to me,
whatever the curl of their spine,
however many years
they have been bowing over
kindergartners' desks.
This is not age, my dear one:
this is life.


marja-leena said...

I love this, Dale. "pools of pain"...yes.

carolee said...

i know a bit about apologizing for who i am. it's a wake-up call to me that i could be doing it (or not) for the next 50 years. i love how much you care about other people. (and are able to communicate that not just via message but through your writing.)

Kathleen said...

How lovely, as in full of love.

thisgirlremembers said...

Oh, beautiful! Your words never fail to move me - I'm glad to be back in the blogging world after a long hiatus, and am delighted to find you, and other fondly remembered writers, still around as well. :)

marly youmans said...

Was wondering if you would write something about your widow of 90! Very interesting to see after that comment--like the vegetative links especially.

Would she like it? I wonder.

Dale said...

Marly, this is actually an amalgamation of elderly clients -- I don't write about specific clients, it's against both my professional and my personal ethics to do so. But I'm glad this has such a feel of specificity to it.

It's a tricky thing: I write much less (explicitly) about massage than I have the impulse to, because people need and deserve their privacy. I hesitated a long time about posting this one, in fact -- it's right at the edge of what I find acceptable.

Dale said...

Thanks all! This Girl, how nice to see you again!