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Senescence in the Hastening Autumn
© by Celia Kelly Bredenbeck

The old oak
hangs onto her leaves this year
I think not from senescence but tenacity;
she clings to a thing outworn,
at least it is something;
she can no longer foresee spring.

We are settled into
the same argument;
it has worn redundant grooves
onto the sulci of our brains;
the thing is;
the thing is not;
the thing is not as it seems;
there is no proof
and no conclusion.

By now the words are as comforting
and ritual
as Matins and Vespers;
I say them by rote
without thinking of their meaning:
this morning the thing is not
at least according to me;
tomorrow the thing will be
and by you it will be not;
there once was a score but I lost its keeping.

"Too long a sacrifice
can make a stone of the heart,"
so the poet said.

Roads are stone, thereby we go;
altars are stone, thereby we pray;
monuments are stone, thereby we remember;
the roads the Romans built still stand
while the soft macadam will be gone next year.
I think a little hardness is a good thing;
not senescence but tenacity.

Am I another
from that young girl in men's breeches
throwing a stone in the wind
and laughing at your fear of forever?

Are you another
from that tender young man
wearing a young girl's claddagh ring
and whistling during thunderstorms?

I call it not senescence but tenacity;
if stones have been made of our hearts,
I expect them to stand long yet;
at least it is something,
and we cannot foresee spring.

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