How alien they seemed,
My elders with their furrowed skin,
Eyes cataracted,
Veins wan-blue,
Clumped on the back of their legs
Like cross-sections of pomegranates.

They treasured yellowed letters never read,
Pressed ferns in books,
Ate gruel,
Vaguely remembered who they once had been,
Felt kindness but forgot all human names.

Their houses were too hot.
They coughed, mumbled complaints
Against snowfalls
And the high-winded madcaps of winter.

Silence and sameness were their intimates,
Dark clothes their sad adornment.
The years calved off their lives
Like sterile icebergs in a northern sea.

I turn from the mirror.

Copyright 2008 © George Edward McDonough.  All rights reserved.

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