Column 13

The quip ‘growing old isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative’ is typical of the way we try and downplay the challenge of the ageing process. This poem by Carole Satymurti taps into the terror that lurks beneath the ‘glaze of gentle manners’, combining subtle humour with philosophical sharpness. The poem is in her new and selected ‘Stitching the Dark‘, published by Bloodaxe Books.

The Front

In old age, when the land begins to tilt, they roll
like marbles, gently, towards the coast, coming to rest
in condominiums with impatient gardens, and rules.

Here, washing lines, ragged cries of pain
are unacceptable. Here are brave faces, a glaze
of gentle manners. The past curls up behind them.

Promenade punctuates their mornings, those aches
affirming one’s still there. They step out,
troupers, earning the comfort of hot chocolate,

fighting to hold the line against decay with camouflage,
cunning, with not naming parts that can’t be helped.
They can dance, can swing an iron, are doing it

for all of us – up ahead, acting impervious
to tides and weather, to show how one can smile
beside the slippery remembrancer, the sea.


Used with kind permission of Carole Satyamurti and Bloodaxe Books.