Last night, I heard the poet Sydney Lea read at the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, and he mentioned being in his seventies is a great time of life. In my forties, myself, I’m in that age justly called rugged – or is it ragged? The age of Dante’s dark woods, I tell myself: a territory to pass through. What’s the best age, anyway? The question begs, perhaps, how rooted we delve into the days we live. Maybe the best answer is Lea’s own, in this love poem.
“My Wife’s Back”
All naked but for a strap, it traps my gaze
As we paddle: the dear familiar nubs
Of spine-bone punctuating that sun-warmed swath…
…Phoebe, osprey, heron, hawk:
Marvels under Black Mountain, but I am fixed
On your back, indifferent to other wonders:
Bright minnows that flared in the shallows,
The gleam off that poor mink’s coat,
Even the fleas in its fur, the various birds
–The lust of creatures just to survive.
But I watch your back. Never have I wished more not to die.
– Sydney Lea