Aging, As It Goes

Samantha Rhodes, University of Toledo


I have a checklist of little orange tubes,
of each age-inspired ailment I’ve picked up.
A blood test to run, a sleep cycle to monitor,
An out-of-whack hormone to diagnose;
Three new antidotes in tidy,
capped bottles is how the pharmacist
knows my name.

In her creaking chair — like her brittle bones —
Grandmother’s withered hands caress mine,
her wrinkles a foreshadow and
her let-Your-will-be-done attitude an omen.

I catch myself thinking
of how my calendar flips page by page,
a mere breeze in my hair
while my body trembles,
each night one 24-hour span older
and my countenance the clock face.
Cards come like work in the mail,
another friend married, an infant’s velvety skin,
an open-casket in need of eulogy.

Death lurks in the spaces light cannot reach,
waits for the murky, unexpected interval between the ‘too.’
Too young or too old — its shoulders shrug,
staring us down with pointed interest;
Its grip pupil-less, a lack of anything,
seeing only through slits
and pulling us through them, squeezing and contorting
us into whatever ailment fits the necessary size.

As that day creeps closer, our lists grow longer;
A dictionary definition beside our name
with a cluttered nightstand of pill-sized bread
we can’t seem to swallow fast enough,
the receipts a rain check for one more steaming
sip of morning coffee.
But the one that has the honor
of the final blow, our clock’s last gear wind,
isn’t even on the list —
And we didn’t have its pill.

Samantha Rhodes is a full-time student at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio, where she studies journalism and English. Though she writes freelance articles for various magazines, she considers herself plagued by an overwhelming desire for creative expression through poetry. Her favorite poets include Louise Gluck and Sharon Olds, and she cites TED podcasts as her mind’s “inspirational fuel.” She recently received the Fall 2015 Jim Lawless IV Poetry Award from UT.