the body, as it ages, its mystery and majesty,
the scars, the lines, the silver threads
unwinding. I no longer care about air-brushed
perfect people in glossy magazines. I want to celebrate
the real: weak ankles courtesy of afternoons
chasing a puck on a frozen pond. Thighs, more Venus
of Willendorf than Kate Moss or Twiggy. Upper arms
that wobble like jello no matter how many reps
I do at the gym. Belly that stretched big as a watermelon,
then spit out (how did that happen?) sweet pink babies.
Breasts that fed them, rivers of thin blue milk.
Yes, I’ve made the turn onto the unpaved road,
where fat yellow leaves hang overhead. Things
don’t get better from here. But over there,
in the clearing, beyond the fields of goldenrod,
New England asters, pearly everlasting,
they’re waiting: the friends who’ve gone before,
my parents, grandparents, lost baby. They’ve
set up a picnic: checked tablecloth, sourdough
bread, French cheeses, green grapes, red wine.
They’re chatting amiably with each other.
The air is sweet with fermentation and birdsong.
The sun slants in from the west and, like Midas,
turns everything to gold.
Barbara Crooker is the author of eight books of poetry, including Les Fauves (C&R Press, 2017) and The Book of Kells (Poeima Poetry Series, Cascade Books, 2019). Her work has appeared in The Bedford Introduction to Literature, in Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry,” and on The Writer’s Almanac.