Present Tense

When they are old,

you hold their hands—the shaking leather glove hands

of wisdom—

and you hear the things you spent a childhood knowing,

the things too obvious to say.

The things you want your children to hold,

but can’t tell them now

because kids can’t reach them.


When they are old,

the common place is precious,

and the thunder

fades to a pale tinkling of glass.

The eyes are small Bethesda pools

of hope.

When they are old,

they home school you

on lessons like

“the shortest distance between two points”

is the heart,

and “love is an action verb”

that also links.

That “time is relative,”

but we give it least to relatives.

When they are old,

you understand yesterday

more than today.

But there are no words that fit

but “show grace to me.”

Because when they are old,

you realize that we never

learn.  None of us.


But now you are young

with embers of dreams

that can be fanned

or extinguished.

Now you look both

ways before crossing from one stage

of life to another.

Now you wonder who you are behind the

awkward smile of the selfie.

But when they are old,

you find yourself poised between parent earth and child sky,

and you hear them say,

“Take what you can from

Me as fertile soil.

Toughen to be hard,

but not so much to not be tender.”

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