I let her garden go.
let it go, let it go How can I watch the hummingbird Hover to sip With its beak’s tip The purple bee balm—whirring as we heard It years ago?
The weeds rise rank and thick let it go, let it go Where annuals grew and burdock grows, Where standing she At once could see The peony, the lily, and the rose Rise over brick
She’d laid in patterns. Moss let it go, let it go Turns the bricks green, softening them By the gray rocks Where hollyhocks That lofted while she lived, stem by tall stem, Dwindle in loss.
To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young, we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage, that began without harm, scatters into debris on the shore, and a friend from school drops cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us past middle age, our wife will die at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces that she is temporary is temporary. The bold woman, middle-aged against our old age, sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge and affirm that it is fitting and delicious to lose everything.
Copyright © 2002 by Donald Hall. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.