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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Exit Notes

I do not fit this new stage,
a bra fits better, even one that is too small
or too big-straps too thin cutting into my small shoulders
and digging in-
a universal truth we gave up
on our way out of the comfort zone.

For you who are ten, twenty, five
years my junior, I'm just babbling, scribbling
with tapping fingers on a plastic tablet
a directorial note for myself, as though
I will return one day and re-step on this stage.

Where was mother at this stage?
Did I experience her loneliness, her
ample body tottering on solid pavement
her eyes fearful, her mouth ready to remind
me of what I had no knowledge of.

"You never were my age!" I remember yelling at her
when I was sixteen, eager for freedom and adventure
shaming her for having married early in life.
As though she knew what she was doing.
As though she had the freedom to refuse that stage of
life that chains itself to other stages, while the mothers in the
family and the fathers too, sign contracts and give their daughters away.

I'm not giving up my freedom, even at this stage. I will
choose the day I die, and how I die, I say this now
and maybe tomorrow too, while the sun is shining
and my teeth don't hurt
and the results of the last mammogram are
not in yet.

The minute you die, though, most people who knew you
will not remember much about you. Just the moment they
stood up to you, in big and small ways, to check their stand
on things, even their view of the audience obscured by the
feeling of power at that moment,
on that small piece of stage
where our verse was spoken,at times in a single word or phrase,
often borrowed for the moment, too afraid to know how
to stand up tall, a la Whitman
or Shakespeare, revealing
more that ever
the struggle
that life
is
from its first to the last breath.

10 comments:

Cheryl Cato said...

Oh wow! You've got me! Maybe it's good we don't know all that stuff when we are younger; it might make us dread growing older.

erin said...

rosaria, i love it when you test yourself and us in this way. brave and revealing. i'm so glad for your enduring spirit. (but on this side of the philosophy, i hope your results are good and you've many more years to show the grandchildren how to hold attention on a stage.)

Paul Costopoulos said...

Keep on trucking, dear Rosaria.

Sally Wessely said...

Each stage and each age presents challenges we can never guess in the stage before. I thought of your mother and if she were where you are right now. You would be gentle with her. Be gentle to yourself. I so hope the results of the test are good.

Shadow said...

Perfect. This is real, this is life, you describe things I recognise myself... don't know if it's good or not to be aging, both have their perks... and it's quite irreversible. That's what I think bothers me the most...

yaya said...

This post hit me because of the conversation I just had with my Mom. She'll be 90 in May and she's struggling with this birthday. She's grateful for each day but she talked about birthdays in the past where you looked forward to doing new or fun things and planning for future events. She says at 90 she's on the downward swing and planning for the future means planning her funeral. Sounds morbid and depressed but she's not either..just my practical Mom stating a fact. One that I've thought of too...I'll be 63 on Sunday and although in this day and age it's still young enough to plan for the future I know that I won't be here forever and aging is truly not for wimps!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria - we're lucky if we've got our brains ... we do need to think about our future ... walking (hobbling) round my mother's bed when she was terminally ill - but quite capable of quips and chat - she'd say to me "for goodness sake go and get your back sorted out - you'll be a double Old Age Pensioner before long!!" If only she knew my hobbling was a birth defect - short leg, and badly formed hip joint - but I'd survived many a decade and played serious squash .. and now I'd love her to be here to be able to say in a joking tone: it was half your fault! She would have laughed .. but we didn't know it was my hip - still I couldn't have had the op - til after she had gone ... so now the new hip is in situ.

It's interesting thinking about the future - I certainly feel much younger .. cheers Hilary

Marcia Ren said...

Hi Rosaria!
I'm new to your blog. Love today's poem. My mother passed away 25 Years ago. Now,I'm around her age. I lived in Southern California all my life and just recently moved to the Oregon coast. The beauty of coastal winter makes me reflect on those early years when I too thought I knew better than her. Thank you for sharing.

dianefaith said...

I've read this post several times, which tells me how much it speaks to me. I find myself wondering what pain shaped my mother's life, and there are questions I'd like to ask her now. When she was alive, the questions never occurred to me. One stage at a time.

Vagabonde said...

I re-read your Exit Notes three times to really get what you said – I think you have some regrets about your mother and I am not sure how to take the end of your piece, it sounds realistic maybe but also a bit pessimistic. This made me think about my mother at my age – she was a widow by then, living in Paris, alone, but was very active and went to many dinners and tours with groups she belong to. She came to the States to visit us.

Like blogger Dianefaith above, If I could ask her something now, it would be things that I had not thought of before and now regret not having asked – like, what happened to her Jewish friend she hid in our 6th floor room, above our flat during the war, and also wasn’t she scared to hide all the Jewish young girls she helped leave the country, wasn’t she scared being found out by the Gestapo or even the bad Vichy French police? But I never thought of asking her, and she never talked about it. My mother always smiled, never talked about her health or sad things, and was happy – we joked a lot. I hope I can stay happy like that.