To grow old is to lose everything. Aging, everybody knows it. Even when we are young, we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads when a grandfather dies. Then we row for years on the midsummer pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage, that began without harm, scatters into debris on the shore, and a friend from school drops cold on a rocky strand. If a new love carries us past middle age, our wife will die at her strongest and most beautiful. New women come and go. All go. The pretty lover who announces that she is temporary is temporary. The bold woman, middle-aged against our old age, sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand. Another friend of decades estranges himself in words that pollute thirty years. Let us stifle under mud at the pond's edge and affirm that it is fitting and delicious to lose everything.
Donald Hall - 1928-2018
Ox Cart Man
In October of the year, he counts potatoes dug from the brown field, counting the seed, counting the cellar's portion out, and bags the rest on the cart's floor. He packs wool sheared in April, honey in combs, linen, leather tanned from deerhide, and vinegar in a barrel hoped by hand at the forge's fire. He walks by his ox's head, ten days to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes, and the bag that carried potatoes, flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose feathers, yarn. When the cart is empty he sells the cart. When the cart is sold he sells the ox, harness and yoke, and walks home, his pockets heavy with the year's coin for salt and taxes, and at home by fire's light in November cold stitches new harness for next year's ox in the barn, and carves the yoke, and saws planks building the cart again.