Thursday, October 09, 2003


Looking at my father’s face, I must confront
my own mortality. I marvel at his silver hair,
the wrinkled skin, his blue Paul Newman
eyes that sparkle still. Antiquity has stolen Dad.
Although insurance tables tell me he’s
in overtime, and my clock’s running down,
I don’t feel so old. It’s like a jug of water
leaking. I’ll bet a bigger jug would make
no difference. Suppose instead
of eighty, the tables topped a hundred
sixty years. My wife’s dad died
at eighty-five, but he had failed to live
a day past twenty-five. But then,
I’ve read about a Russian guy who lived
a hundred thirty-three, still active
to the end. Dad’s raised three
of us pretty well successfully,
outlived two wives, and married
a third; he’s traveled some and saved
enough to live a comfortable retirement.
That must say insurance tables don’t
mean much — just tell how fast the average
jug will leak, but not how well a life’s been lived.
I look again into my father’s face, smile,
and wonder at his silver hair, his aging skin,
and blue, defiant eyes still full of expectation.
I splash hot water and smear the lather,
then lift the razor to my cheek and chin.

Copyright 2003 by Pete Freas.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.

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