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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Land of Age

Been there over the weekend. A very cramped place, few amenities, and the price is steep. Had a weekend with aging disabled parents and find myself thoughtful about how we treat our elders in America. I can't speak for other countries, especially those with socialized medicine, but here it's a jungle -- brutally divergent levels of care depending on who you worked for and how much you amassed and where you live. And most good, competent doctors simply have a bin marked "Arthritic, addled elder" to dump you into. In fact, I think they have a prescription so marked. Celebrex for everything. And not much to celebrate.

I don't usually post my poem drafts online, but this was a weekend poem:

My father would have made a good actor:
booming voice, quicksilver moods, ability to forget
one personality as he dons another. Now most
of the lines in the plays he lives are vanishing
he ad-libs from the heart, sometimes with wit.
He forgets the four decades of spite
between them when his sister calls.
He can't remember the no-good son-in-law
I divorced or that he once put the present one
out on the street with his suitcase during an argument.
Are you my son? he asks. Are you
my daughter? Some good things about age
come clear to me in the huge blanks
that cloud our history. I turn
the corner into his room again and say, Hello Dad.