but still, once a day,
climbs college hill,
balanced between the
warmth of the sun in her face
and the pains in her upper arm.
Students pay her no mind.
What she knows is irrelevant to them.
It’s all about what they don’t.
It’s no longer her heart
but her head that needs the exercise.
She laughs inwardly at some memories,
forestalls the tears
by debating, with herself,
the usefulness of grief.
A young man running for class
almost knocks her down.
He doesn’t stop to apologize.
She knows she’s getting on,
that she’s at an age when life and death
but she figures, if she can still
move about, she may as well take her pleasures.
Cakes from the bakery.
A glass of wine now and then.
Even a gossip with her neighbor.
And there’s the college lawn,
young people stretched out
with their books and each other.
She never had the opportunity to join them.
Factory work, marriage, motherhood,
a house to keep –
but, if she ever falls down on her walk,
that’s where she’d love to land.
But she doesn’t blame the life she’s led.
It kicked up some heels.
But it mostly bent to the task.
Romantic love came and went.
Obligation took its place.
The rage was intermittent.
The body did enough aching
for the rest of her.
What might have been –
it doesn’t bother her.
Too much to get her brain around,
too many recalculations,
like one of those GPS voices
when the driver disobeys
its initial instructions.
Another student zips past,
like the last, almost bumps into her.
But she doesn’t mind as much.
She’s getting closer to that lawn.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Willard and Maple and Red Coyote.