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American Life in Poetry: Middle Age

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opinion Morris, 56267

Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

By Ted Kooser

Rhyming has a way of brightening a poem, and a depressing subject can become quite a bit lighter with well-chosen rhymes. Here's a sonnet by Mary Meriam, who lives in Missouri. Are there readers among you who have felt like this?

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The Romance of Middle Age

Now that I'm fifty, let me take my showers

at night, no light, eyes closed. And let me swim

in cover-ups. My skin's tattooed with hours

and days and decades, head to foot, and slim

is just a faded photograph. It's strange

how people look away who once would look.

I didn't know I'd undergo this change

and be the unseen cover of a book

whose plot, though swift, just keeps on getting thicker.

One reaches for the pleasures of the mind

and heart to counteract the loss of quicker

knowledge. One feels old urgencies unwind,

although I still pluck chin hairs with a tweezer,

in case I might attract another geezer.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2009 by Mary Meriam, whose most recent book of poetry is The Countess of Flatbroke, (afterword by Lillian Faderman), Modern Metrics/Exot Books, 2006. Poem reprinted from Rattle, Vol. 15, no. 2, Winter 2009, by permission of Mary Meriam and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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