by Lisa Zaran
Why I Love Old Men
They're enchanting and smell like tobacco.
They're self-possessed and know life is a garden.
No roses. Some rhubarb perhaps, a few carrot
I love old men because they wait for their old wives
on benches while she grocery shops.
Because they play with their beards.
Because they are patient to a fault
and can observe the asylum of living for decades
with milky eyes, jaws limp, hearts halted at 5 a.m. sharp.
I love old men for their indifference
as much as their opinion.
I love especially how they care for the old woman
by their side, never once thinking, they too are old.
I love them for how much they know yet find contentment
in a cup of coffee, an afternoon stroll.
I love old men because they do not weigh their burden,
bury their investments. It's just life, both brutal and remarkable
at once. I love old men because they watch the news
and can proliferate from their warmest chair, every brilliant
idea, thick and engraved, one arm fist-lifted, the other
cradling a grandchild.
The Day We Knew the World Was Coming to an End but Didn't
My mother was working the swing shift as a nurse
at Saint Joseph's hospital either measuring output
or shifting the dials of a respirator.
My father immersed in his workshop, repairing
the broken bones of a typewriter or counting
his collection of shot-gun shells.
The sky was a lid about to blow off. The wind
was an unmeasurable force rattling the windows
of our trailer in Ridgecrest.
My sisters and I agreed: it's hard to be good
and follow the rules when the world is ending.
We huddled, the three of us, under our make-shift
bed-sheet tent in the living room. We ate forbidden
food: ice cream and cereal, pop tarts and spoons of
peanut butter. We prayed, clasping our hands together
meditation style. We bowed our heads between
sips of cola. We lit candles. We believed.
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