At Sixty Five by Henri Cole

At Sixty-Five

Henri Cole
It was all so different than he expected.For years he’d been agnostic; now he meditated.For years he’d dreamed of being an artist living abroad;now he reread Baudelaire, Emerson, Bishop.He’d never considered marriage . . .Still, a force through green did fuse.Yes, he wore his pants looser.No, he didn’t do crosswords in bed.No, he didn’t file for Social Security.Yes, he danced alone in the bathroom mirror,since younger men expected generosity.Long ago, his thesis had been described as promising,“with psychological heat and the consumingwill of nature.” Now he thought, “This then is all.”

On the rooftop, in pale flickering moonlight,he pondered the annihilated earth.At the pond, half-a-mile across was nottoo far to swim because he seemed to begoing toward something. Yes, the love impulsehad frequently revealed itself in terms of conflict;but this was an old sound, an austere element.Yes, he’d been no angel and so what . . .Yes, tiny moths emerged from the hall closet.Yes, the odor of kombucha made him sick.Yes, he lay for hours pondering the treetops,the matriarchal clouds, the moon.Though his spleen collected melancholy trophies,his imagination was not impeded.

One response

  1. This is a poem about a handsome gay man growing old and so longer sexually desirable to young men. Growing old for gay men is usually about thirty years younger than for straight men.

    He’s been an important person in poetry, both as a writer of poems and as a gate keeper to poetry.

    The T.S. Eliot allusion to wearing his trousers rolled didn’t work for me.

    But I think he deserves another chance.

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