Coming into Eighty: Poems
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In May Sarton's seventeenth and final collection of poetry, the writer reflects on life, aging, and mortalityComing into Eighty presents a poet's look at age. Herein, Sarton gives readers a glimpse into her quotidian tasks, her memories, her losses, and her triumphs. The volume explores topics ranging from the war in Iraq to the struggle of taking a cat to the vet. Dark and immediate, this work catalogues both the tedium and the splendor of life with equal wit and beauty. Winner of the Levinson Prize.
Sometimes wobbly. We are hardly a glorious sight. It has been a long voyage Through time, travail and triumph, Eighty years Of learning what to be And how to become it. One day the ship will decompose and then what will become of me? Only a breath Gone into nothingness Alone Or a spirit of air and fire Set free? Who knows? Greet us at landfall The old ship and me, But we can’t stay anchored. Soon we must set sail On the last mysterious voyage Everybody takes Toward death.
the left-hand margin of the page. But unlike a printed book, which is stable, an ebook is a shape-shifter. Electronic type may be reflowed across a galaxy of applications and interfaces, across a variety of screens, from phone to tablet to computer. And because the reader of an ebook is empowered to change the size of the type, a poem’s original lineation may seem to be altered in many different ways. As the size of the type increases, the likelihood of any given line running over increases.
once Because they love me. I try to pretend They are not unknown But I am at the end Turned to rag and bone. For I cannot contain The interweaving Of their hope and pain And true believing. And I cannot forget (As if lack of funding To pay a big debt) My not responding. MELANCHOLY Crawl under the roots of a tree No one needs you any longer. You the destined solitary, You can sleep away the hunger That is tearing you apart, Woman with an open heart. No one’s mother, no one’s
out Alone. The past is Now. The tide rises and falls. There is no shutting it out. LUNCH IN THE GARDEN We sat having lunch In the garden Camellias in flower And pink viburnum Crocus, daffodils, and anemones On the ground Like the border of a tapestry. And who were we? She is 95 now He, her lover long ago, 81 And I the poet Who adored her, 80. Fifty-five years ago He sent me a telegram “Oh, let my joys have some abiding.” We sat in the spring garden On a chilly March day And
“Disclaimer,” you’ll see the automatic indent; in the fifth line, for instance, the word ahead drops down and is indented. The automatic indent not only makes poems easier to read electronically; it also helps to retain the rhythmic shape of the line—the unit of sound—as the poet intended it. And to preserve the integrity of the line, words are never broken or hyphenated when the line must run over. Reading “Disclaimer” on the screen, you can be sure that the phrase “you pause before the little