My internist instructs me how to pee . . .

how to pee pic
She’s confident, confiding, and all of seventeen
She smiles at me with kindness–
She knows just what I mean.

A nuisance, not an illness
Nothing serious or weighty:
Like all the things that trouble me,
it’s just because I’m eighty.

“Your leaking’s not a problem
Just count on your Depends
Do your Kegels faithfully
and if a flood impends
you waited just too long, you see,
so set your phone to jingle
each hour on the hour
and run right in and tinkle.”

Old Lady Bathroom


Footed bathtub, an orange stain
beneath the dripping tap,
floor of small six-sided tiles, pale blue and white
much-scrubbed grungy grout;
under the oval basin
oxidized pipes, sweating, wrapped in tape
plastic toilet seat filled with air
for a soft, convenient ride
peach chenille cover on the lid
a ring inside the bowl,
accumulated lime, concrete to the sponge
faded rag rug
hot-water bottle on one hook
pink nylon nightgown on another;
bathmat bought in ‘64
laundered to the warp
towels limp on a thin metal rack
paisley shower curtain, no discernible color
bar of Camay, the soap of beautiful women,
in a grey ceramic dish
checkered curtain, once blue and white
edged in eyelet
small framed picture of a girl in silhouette,
long gown, bonnet, parasol
another, of a peak-roofed house
with two windows and a
red door, done in crayon, signed “Eddy”
dish of hairpins, pink glass atomizer
of lavender cologne,
worn toothbrush in a cloudy glass
opaque white jar of Pond’s face cream
yellowed ivory hairbrush twisted with grey strands
boutique box of tissues in a ruffled cozy
a congeries of small prescription vials
milk of magnesia, iodine, mercurochrome
mineral oil, Epsom salts, Dr. Scholl’s
Carter’s Little Liver Pills.
Smells of mildew, urine, violets and lavender,
rubber, toothpaste, Lysol, face-powder.
A spotted mirror that each morning throws back an image
of valor, wisdom, stubborn love of life.

falling softly


When I was young
I fell very hard
broke bones, capillaries, my spleen
and all four chambers of my heart.
The philosophers knocked me off my pins:
Spinoza, Santayana, James–they were
not even the hardest of thinkers, but still
I banged my head bloody on them.

So many years have gone by
so much blood spilled
skin stitched up, bones mended.
Old age has taught me the
value of a good mattress
a cushioned chair
kindness in every honest form,
and falling, softly, on a thought.

Jan, 9/14