We are having a soaking rain today, and I am enjoying the peace
and the hibernation it affords.
I have been thinking about the freedom I feel I have acquired to
be myself and do what I want, now that I have
achieved middle age.
To me, this poem says it all.
Wind off the small pond where I set my rubber
boat down and climbed in, my child-sized paddle
barely long enough to push off or feather
a rudderless craft. Easier to drift in circles
across the late-March waters, my dogs
wild at the idea of spring's first cold immersions.
Still, they swam out to try to climb aboard,
swamping my little boat until, soaked through,
I paddled back, spilled roaring in the shallows.
Onshore two mothers watched, and their
young children who neither waved nor smiled,
nor I. Distance forgave us, and the babies,
who stood on guard, sticks in their little
hands raised to the pack shaking dry,
running headlong in their direction.
The mothers swept children onto hips
and turned, barely maneuvering behind them
strollers tipping a wreck of bright bottle bags,
toys, blankets, perhaps extra clothes.
Once they looked back to show me myself at fifty,
frightening to them, not yet recognizable, the self-
same, almost, in an old nightmare obsolete,
who might have called out to reassure
as I buried my freezing legs in the sun-warmed
sand and lay back, flanked by three dogs
and a rubber boat. O brilliant, trivial unmooring.
from her collection Trapeze