I Am Seven. I Have Vowed

Hands of old-woman21 September 2016

I am seven.
I have vowed
to keep quiet as I watch
unfasten from my Grandmother’s wrist
the elastic band of time,
as I watch her being
divested of her last
hours on earth.

How like thin, bony
oars her arms
at rest across her chest,
oars that have rowed
her body forward
seventy-two years.
‘Is seventy-two years old?’, I ask myself.
I am seven. What is old?

She is tired now.
Her heart is spent of feelings.
Her eyes, once chips of summer
sky, are now the grey
of a winter sea. The arctic arm
is reaching for her, to steady her
across the horizon where she will
disappear beyond my watching.

She is a prayerful woman, still.
And the strand of beads
entwining her fingers is seadrift,
seadrift from the world
toward which her
being is being
rowed.

I have watched the last sparkling
chip of blue sky fade
to grey sea in her eyes.
I have kept the silence
of the living
for the dying.
I am seven.
I had vowed.

Philip Kuepper
(2 September 2016)

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