“Death Mask” — Edward Field

“Death Mask,” a poem by Edward Field

“Old age is the most unexpected
of all the things that happen to a man.”
–Leon Trotsky.

“Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their
folly,
Their fear…”
–“East Coker,” by T.S. Eliot

1

In the mirror now,
what I see
reminds me
I won’t be here forever.

I don’t feel like
that face at all.
Inside it, I protest,
I’m quite different.

It’s somebody’s grandfather,
not me.

Whose grandfather is that?
I don’t want him.

2

Ah, memory, memory….

terrible,

to be losing

the words.

3

How do you get from here to there-
I mean, from where I am
to the nursing home?
In a snap of the fingers,
the blink of an eye.

Like my mother said,
as she was being loaded
into the ambulance,
It went so fast.

4

Life
a lazy buzz,
then
the quick sting.

A long inward breath,
then
the sudden
exhaling.