by John Samuel Tieman
my oldest old pal
pulls out a photo album
ripples in a lake
“He was 72. He lived a good, long life,” says a young colleague. I’m 62. I shudder. Folks have been on Death Row longer than 10 years.
I’m not aging gracefully. I’d like to “rage against the dying of the light.” Instead, I read the obituaries. I miss Les.
I kept Les’ obituary. Les and I were in the army together, 1969, 1970. We kept up for the next decade. Then jobs and loves and travel and we lost track, only to be reunited in 2003 or 4 or so. The cigarettes killed Les. I don’t have the skill to get over missing Les. I don’t have the time to build that skill. Sometimes I have a memory, say from my childhood, and I stop. I realize that I’m the only one left.
I’m not afraid of death. I’m an aging narcissist. I’m saddened by the fact that I’ll never make love to Suzanne Pleshette, never march with the Foreign Legion, never pinch hit for the Cardinals. I’m getting used to being the oldest person in the room.
After making love, my wife points out that my beard, and the white sheets, are the same color. It’s like I’m fading into the background.
covers my living room walls
but all I see is
the blank tv screen in which
an old man is reflected