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Waiting for the Scythe
by
Tamara Madison


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She’s got 93 years on that body. It still works,
mostly. It needs a brace on one leg (Consult
a neurologist next time you slip a disc!)
but it gets around with the help of a purple walker
with zebra stripes. The brain still works most
of the time, especially with the right
old-memory-trigger.

She’s going to donate this body to science:
the 93 year-old heart that hasn’t always
done the right thing; the overactive digestive tract;
the eyes that have seen so much with their
20-40 vision; the vocal chords that have told jokes,
sung arias in five languages and spoken with authority
even upon ignorance; the bony hands that painted
all the paintings that hang on her walls.
She’s pretty sure the Grim Reaper is on his way.
She's been waiting for him for years now.
“What use am I here? Why am I still alive?”

She’s in bed right now in a purple nightgown,
waiting. I tell her, “If you really want him to come,
play hard to get! If you keep throwing yourself at him,
he’ll never come.” And every time he does come by
he takes a look and says, “Nah, not this time.”
Maybe he’s saving her — not for last, for of course
there is never a last. Maybe he’s saving her
for that one day when he’ll be sure she’s the right one;
he’ll drop his scythe and gather her into his arms:
white limbs and silver hair, purple nightgown
rippling in the wind.


This poem received an Honorable Mention in the 2018 Steve Kowit Poetry Prize competition.
Used here with the author’s permission.

 


Purchase a framed print of this poem.

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook, The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. She is a dog lover, a swimmer, and a native Californian who has lived in many different places in the U.S. and abroad. Tamara is thrilled to have recently retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school, and still more thrilled to have recently become a grandmother.

  

 

 


Post New Comment:
Jancan:
What a great poem--moving, dryly humorous. Superb! Jancan
Posted 09/02/2018 04:58 PM
rhonasheridan:
Loved it.
Posted 08/30/2018 12:53 PM
Lori Levy:
Great poem! Love the humor.
Posted 08/29/2018 02:51 PM
peninsulapoet:
wonderful
Posted 08/29/2018 10:19 AM
wordartdjc:
Oh, yes, I know the feeling. I just say, " some days are better than others" and then I let it go.. Great Poem.
Posted 08/29/2018 10:07 AM
Michael:
I feel the elan of life throughout this poem. Well done, Tamara!
Posted 08/29/2018 09:20 AM
cork:
Oh, the question we have no answer for!
Posted 08/29/2018 09:13 AM
Larry Schug:
An amazing poem on many levels.
Posted 08/29/2018 08:41 AM
plgoodman:
What a lovely picture- for all of us waiting for that reaper!
Posted 08/29/2018 08:24 AM
vortex:
beautiful!
Posted 08/29/2018 07:03 AM
Jane Eva Cooper:
Marvellous. Beautifully expressed. Why indeed!
Posted 08/29/2018 05:38 AM


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