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.