martha mcferren | exercise

3 11 2007


Poetry Dispatch No.129 | November 24, 2006


EXERCISE by Martha McFerren
for Dennis

He’s having the mid-life crisis
he promised me he wouldn’t have.
“You only crash,” he explained,
“if you haven’t reached your dreams.
But I’ve never known what I wanted.”
He knows now what he wants: young.

He looks in the long mirror,
tugging the slack in his jacket,
looks in his shaving mirror,
even with no razor, examines
the new jowling, the graying,
the thickening around the bend.’
He’s mumbling about fifty,
though he’s three years from fifty.
He likes to brood ahead.

At least I know where he is:
in the basement pumping iron.
He hasn’t emptied the bank account
and split for India to find himself
amidst the rice. In cold light
I check him out and decide,
He still looks mighty good.
He deserves a straw boater
and spiffy white cricket flannels,
cricket flannels let out a trifle.
Women pay boodles’ in beauty parlors
for that silver in the forelock.

I haven’t done panic yet. I was
old before my time; the time
just seems to be catching up.
McFerrens age well. We’re crazy,
but we keep our hair and our hides.
Still, it’s coming. The two of us
have discussed holding hands
when it gets too awful, and jumping
which would take some driving
off the first cliff we can find
in Louisiana. I suggested handcuffs,
in case one pulls a cop-out
and stands there yelling, “SOR-ry,”
while the other heads for the dirt.

I don’t lift weights, but mornings
after he’s left for work,
I put on my 45’s and dance. Fast.

from WOMEN IN CARS, Helicon Nine Editions, 1992



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