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Poetry
A poem on Aging


Who is really inside?
 
When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a hospital in England, it appeared she had left nothing of value.
 
The nurse, packing up her possessions, found this poem. The quality so impressed the staff that copies were distributed to all the nurses in the hospital.
 
This poem then later appeared in the Christmas edition of "Beacon House News," a magazine of the Northern Ireland Mental Health Association. This was the Lady's bequest for posterity.

What do you see nurse,
What do you see?
What are you thinking
When you look at me?
A crabby old woman,
Not very wise,
Uncertain of habit
With far away eyes.

 Who dribbles her food
And makes no reply;
Then you say in a loud voice,
"I do wish you'd try."
Who seems not to notice
The things that you do,
And forever is losing
A stocking or shoe.

 Unresisting or not,
Lets you do as you will;
With bathing or feeding,
The long day to fill.
Is that what you're thinking,
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes nurse,
You're not looking at me.

 I'll tell you who I am,
As I sit here so still,
As I move at your bidding,
As I eat at your will.

 I'm a small child of ten ...
With a father and mother,
And brothers and sisters
Who love one another.

 A girl of sixteen,
With wings on her feet;
Dreaming that soon,
A lover she'll meet.

 A bride soon at twenty ...
My heart gives a leap;
Remembering the vows
That I promised to keep.

 At twenty-five,
I have young of my own,
Who need me to build
A secure and happy home.

 A woman of thirty,
My young now grow fast,
Bound together with ties
That forever should last.

 At forty, my young ones
Have grown up and gone;
But my man is beside me
To see I don't mourn.

 At fifty, once more ...
Babies play 'round my knees;
Again we know children,
My loved ones and me.

 Dark days are upon me,
My husband is dead ...
I look at the future,
I shudder with dread;
For my young are all rearing,
Young of their own,
And I think of the years
And the love I have known.

 I am an old woman now,
Nature is cruel,
'Tis her jest to make old age
Look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles,
Grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone
Where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass,
A young girl still dwells,
And now and again
My battered heart swells.

 I remember the joys,
I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living
Life over again.

 I think of the years ...
All too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact
That nothing can last.

 So open your eyes nurses,
Open and see ...
Not a "Crabbit Old Woman,"
Look closer ... see "Me."

 ~ Phyllis McCormack ~


 

 


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