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On Turning Fifty

I have become all that I could not do.
I stand shorn on a worn, green hill
knowing only
the last call I can issue
and answer to.
All but one whom I have loved
are here in a circle tossing,
turn by turn,
a soft ball
to the smallest nephew.
The one missing,
still missed.
I could not bring him back.
I have grown into that lacking, too.
Now the youngest
says my name, sings my name.
Aunt, Aunt.
I think of Sappho,
of the girl who died,
her sisters who cut their hair
and cried.
Hair like the grass
I bend to
as sunlight fails
when play is done.
What I could not do, I am become.
by Therese L. Broderick
(An artist statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)

About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

One response »

  1. poetryaboutart

    ARTIST’S STATEMENT about this poem
    Fact & Fiction –
    In early June, I will turn fifty years old, a bittersweet birthday. The scene in this poem – people tossing a ball in a circle on a hill — describes an outing that my extended family took one summer. That afternoon was one of the most memorable of my life. The missing person is my deceased father.
    The piece by Sappho to which I refer is “Epitaph” on page 42 of Greek Lyrics, 2nd ed. (U Chicago, 1960), translated by Richmond Lattimore. In that passage, the maiden friends of Timas, who died before she was married, cut off their hair and laid it upon the tomb. Mr. Lattimore notes on page 38 that Sappho may not have written this epitaph.
    Sound & Sense –
    In this poem I seek emotional cleansing through simple words and sounds. The images are common, but also timeless : a green hill, a circle of people, grass as hair, sunset at the end of life. The rhymes are simple : shorn, worn ; all, ball, etc. The poem should be read in a slow but slightly high-pitched, strained voice.


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