Thursday, 07 August 2014
ELDER POETRY INTERLUDE: Old Folks Laugh
Maya Angelou, who died earlier this year at age 86, seems to have been beloved by all. She was a wise woman - wise, I think, even as a young-ish woman.
There are a couple of things she said somewhere in the dim past of my memory that have stuck with me through years. There have been repeated times in my life when I've had to remind myself of this one:
”Courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.”
The second, although I have no wish to pat myself on the back, is a truth I came to understand when I was relatively young and was glad, eventually, to find someone who could say it more poetically than I had been able to do.
”You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
But what I'm really here for today is to present you one of Ms. Angelou's poems I like that is rarely referenced - one about old age. It is titled, Old Folks Laugh, and I was amazed to find a YouTube video of the poem read by someone names Jason Harris.
I like the entire poem but it is the final phrase that resonates most strongly: “generously forgive life for happening to them.”
They have spent their
content of simpering,
holding their lips this
and that way, winding
the lines between
their brows. Old folks
allow their bellies to jiggle like slow
rise up and spill
over any way they want.
When old folks laugh, they free the world.
They turn slowly, slyly knowing
the best and the worst
Saliva glistens in
the corners of their mouths,
their heads wobble
on brittle necks, but
are filled with memories.
When old folks laugh, they consider the promise
of dear painless death, and generously
forgive life for happening
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: The Suet Circus