Here’s the poem I read to open the grand Creative Age Festival, June 4, 2015, in the London Public Library Rotary Garden.
Double Vision, i
Age is the phase for integration as we enter
the violet sphere, embracing shadows in
whatever form they appear, welcoming all.
We wear our lives on our faces, to be read.
We have stood in bright glittering sunshine
long enough. We have given to the world
what the world required. Now we inquire
what we ourselves need to feel complete.
We enter understanding, standing under all
we have done, all we are. We rest in the full
spectrum of fulfilment, scanning the span of
a moment’s totality. Time out of time expands
to include our whole life, with its possibilities
realized or still potential, yet to be enacted,
expended to the rest remaining to us, doubling
to manifest or stay outstanding as life allows.
Now is when to remember just who we entered
this world to become. To gather, to recollect, to
recall, to weave into a basket of plenty and pass
our basket of us as bequest on, nest for the next.
None of our history is lost. It lives in the present
as presence. We are the legacy we leave and
that which we’ve received, stretching back over
generations. We hold in our palms the prints
of past, present and unknown epochs to come.
What brings us to wisdom, this transmission
of all we are? Our grandchildren might hear
what our offspring may not yet have learned.
For our wisdom to ripen, we need shelter, a
place that respects us so we may continue
to live the love that is antidote to fear, free
of want. Where we can reflect upon, reflect
back gleams of insight gleaned from living
well, unhampered. May we listen to our body.
Despite the indignities our flesh is heir to, we
attend to aches in organs hitherto unknown.
Double Vision, ii
Now we understand why old folks walk as
they do, not from choice, but because knees
don’t bend and ankles tend to give way. We
see our parents in the mirror and marvel at
the flight of time, knowing that inside we feel
thirty or forty max., on good days. We know
the limits our younger selves blithely ignored,
growing up, growing over the lump in our heart.
As we enter elderhood, may we burn up rather
than rust away, till we are entirely retread, ready
for whatever awaits. Retired, may we try again,
treating ourselves as well we need be treated.
May our inner weather be sun-dappled no matter
what. May we recognize in the mirror the others
that we were, as we are. May we elders be seen
as lineage-holders, holding the mirror for the next
generation down the line and on. May we be heard.
This poem was published in Cautionary Tales: Giving Voice to the Elders (2015) for the League of Canadian Poets Feminist Caucus Archives. The original version of “Double Vision” was commissioned by Gina Barber for the Age Friendly London Report. It was recorded by Dennis Siren on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B8DOIfinOs.