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April 25, 2021

Bonus: "Am I Old Yet?" poem

Bonus: "Am I Old Yet?" poem

I wrote this poem last July, shortly after the first lockdown began to open up. The acting college where I had been teaching voice part time prior to lockdown invited me to come back into the studio to teach, and I didn't consider it safe—for myself, or for the students—so I declined.  It occurred to me that I would almost certainly never be offered such  work again.  I had been extremely lucky to have kept on teaching at the tertiary level for as long as I had, well into my 70s.

Thoughts on ageing weren't new to me. But this seemed more pressing, especially with all the understanding by that stage that anyone over 80 was especially vulnerable to Covid-19. When 80 is only 4 years away, and those years are accelerating  by faster than  a Formula 1 car driven by Jensen Button, it feels like tomorrow.

Hence this poem.

It was published in October 2020 as part of the collection "Sunsets & Kites", which is available from Amazon online.

Enjoy!  And stay safe.

Image courtesy @gsultangeorge

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/amIoldyet)
Transcript

AM I OLD YET?

Coz I am starting to think 

I’ve heard everything there is to hear

That I might already know 

Everything that there is to know.

I don’t mean that literally, of course.

I’m not that stupid.

I know enough to know that 

There is always more to know

I just mean there is nothing on the radio

Or on the tv

That I haven’t heard before.

 

Am I old yet? Because

I don’t fear death. I fear pain.

And yet I experience pain all the time. 

I fear that the pain will get worse

Till I cannot bear it.

And yet, each time it increases, I bear it. 

And if I make it to 96

And you want to acknowledge 

Any achievements I may have managed

Do not include being 96 

Among my achievements.

 

Am I old yet? 

Because sometimes

I feel a little bit lost.

But then I wonder 

Is that even a thing?

What does it mean to be a ‘little bit lost’?

Is it like being a little bit pregnant?

Or a little bit defrosted?

 

Am I old yet? I hear myself

Saying things my mother only started saying

When she was definitely old in my eyes.

Like “No! I don’t want a new phone 

With more computing power than a spaceship."

I don't want or need a cooker that talks to me

Or a washing machine that talks to the fridge.

I don’t want to watch films or read books 

About horrible people doing 

Horrible things to each other

No matter how well made 

Or well written they are.

Why would you?

 

Am I old yet? 

Because I still have questions.

Such as: where does infinity start?

Where does it go?

How can you see the shadow of something 

That cannot, itself, be seen?

Is there another life form on this planet 

Quite as self-destructive as humanity?

 

Am I old yet?

My friends rush to reassure me that I’m not. 

They are kind. I suspect they are afraid

That if I am old, they either are

Or soon will be, old too.

But I no longer dread discovering that I am old. 

There is no law that says my ‘old’ 

Will be the same

As my mother’s. Or yours.

Any more than there was a law that said 

My ‘young’ was the right 

Or the wrong kind of ‘young’.

 

Drifting between the event horizon 

And the singularity

My body is a space ship, and

There is an end to the universe.  It is

Out there, somewhere outside of 

Me. And also inside of me.

And that, I think

Is probably, possibly 

How old I am.

(c) Flloyd Kennedy, 2020