The Mortals

One of the secrets is not one any longer.
I told Esther who told Fina who told May
about a man twice my age

who they say is old but about whom
I say not yet.
I want to ask if they think they are old also

but they would respond
with their very particular spinster meanness.

Though they are not yet old,
they are pitiable (when the lipstick feathers
or a tiny wet bead above the lip appears).

They argue about how to feed the orchids
or when and when not to open the windows in April.

Only once that I heard did they argue importantly
and it sounded like this:

it is summer it is seasonless it is deathless it is
whatever I want it to be you cannot
decide eternity God is infinite they are 

not the same they are
heaven is both
that is impossible heaven is possible

to which finally I had to say ladies ladies
as if I could settle it when really 

I only want them to teach me to not fear aloneness, 
not fear the before life much less the after. 
I want them to somehow know the way 

in which to make the not yet old man love me again.
Ladies ladies I say

and then they say there is no time for this
as though they are busy or as though
there are answers.

We don’t have all day they say
but they do, they do have entire days 

and many of them, many
very long unanswerable days.

Photo coutesty flickr user likeaduck, available here.

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Allison Seay

Allison Seay is the recipient of fellowships from the Ruth Lilly Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her book of poems, To See the Queen, won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize from Persea Books. She teaches at Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia.