Write about aging, the big man said;
Write about growing old.
Write about feeling the grim wind’s breath;
Acknowledge the creeping cold.
Write about all of the fears you’ve felt,
About all of the terrors you’ve known;
About sensing the ice forming under your belt;
About feeling its bulk — how it’s grown.
Write of the despair in the stubbly gray hair
Creeping in to discolour your chin;
Write about wrinkles — the deepening pair
Of parentheses framing your grin.
Write about unease, the swift-sweeping doubt
That’s encroaching, occluding the light
From the bulbs that are flickering in and out
To obscure and confound your sight.
Write about feeling the dread that begins
For all people, the slow and the sage,
When they see themselves losing their drum-tight skin
In the face of advancing age…
Write about facing the tacit truth
That death thrives in the middle of life
Like a cancerous growth in a handsome youth
And the germinant seed in his wife.
Write about dying, about the fact
That no one who has ever believed
In his own immortality has passed intact
Through the grief of his own bereaved.
Write about clinging to life, he said;
Despite knowing you’re going to die.
Write about knowing you’ll soon be dead
But don’t waste your time wondering why.