The Old Days

We who are still living in the Old Days,
We must express what human lives have always been like
While we still can - where we thought we were headed -
By poem, novel and movie we must explain before it all frays;
Not the lives of exception, but the day to day now getting shredded:
How we age, and no longer are young.
What it is like to live a life, separately, blearily,
Unwired in, and to all others blind:
To eat, and to taste only what’s on your own tongue,
To think, and to know only what’s in your own mind,
To love, and to only guess who your loved one is really.

To live alone in raw experience, unique, learning the raw world
From pure sense and act, the wind, the sea, flowers, rain, a tree felled,
Birdsong and fires, and fruit, meat, a wall built, a stone hurled,
Only knowing what you yourself have seen, heard, touched, tasted and smelled.

To feel the parts wearing out, with no replacement or repair -
To lose some teeth, all the teeth, the use of an ankle, to lose all your hair -
To ache, to forget, lose the sight, lose hearing clear vowels,
To lose the memory, lose the mind, to lose control of bladder and bowels.

If we don’t express these things, how will the New Days believe?
How will they even understand our lives, our flawed sense of direction
From whose millennia they’ve sprung to Deathless Interconnection?
How will they imagine our daily reality? How will they conceive
What it is like to feel immortal while young,
Then to age, and to watch age your separate loved one -
To live, feeling death creep up as your body goes wrong,
And die alone.

Robin Helweg-Larsen

If you have any comments on this poem, Robin Helweg-Larsen would be pleased to hear from you.