One Day

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One Day

Margaret Atwood

(The Three Fates sing backup)

One day I will be old
you said, let's say
while hanging up the wash --
the sheets, the pillowcases --
with their white smell of June rain 
in the years when you still did that
and pear blossoms fell around you
joyous as weddings
and your brain sang Yeah yeah yeah
like a backup group,
three girls with long legs
and thigh-high boots, wagging their tiny skirts
like bees announcing honey in some complex dance
in time.

In time my eyes will shrink, Yeah yeah
my mouth will fill with metal
my spine will crumble, Yeah yeah
yeah, sang the three lithe girls
who now had silver makeup
and green spiked hair.
But maybe I'll get wisdom,
you said, laughing, 
like stepping through a door. 
Oh yeah! they sang. Fuck that!
Who needs it anyway?

Then you forgot.

Today you're poking with your stick
among the wilted hostas
in the quiet garden.
Where is it? you say
to the last blue asters,
to the yellow leaves floating in the pool
of the round stone birdbath.
Where is that wisdom?
Not to mention the music.
It must be around here somewhere.
Now that I need it. 

Nobody sings back now.
Now they just whisper
in their pale yellow camouflage.
They've got sticks too.
Over there, they say, oh yeah.
Try the geraniums.

You pry with your stick:
Just earth and roots. A stone.
It's not a door, you say. 
Yeah, yeah, they whisper.
But nothing's locked. There's nothing
to it. Never was.
Just open.
Just walk in.

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