A Poem I wrote years ago

Grey Matter
by John Stiles

“You know, we really
take a lot for granted
when we’re younger,”
I said to the octogenarian
sitting vigil by his
wife of 65 years.
“That is true,” he said,
slowly nodding,
as we gathered in the dim light
of her hospital room.
This week she fell and broke her hip.
And he had an aneurysm
and can’t do for her what he used to.
Still, he showers her with kisses to the forehead.
This is the woman who once welcomed him
to the comfort of her bosom
as they reveled in the glory of their youth.
Now she sits,
unaware of what has happened,
or perhaps more aware than any of us.
He, on the edge of the bed,
thin legs crossed like walking sticks.
I want to stay with them.
I want to listen for truth, wisdom,
for whatever lies beneath her half-smile.
What does she know?
Perhaps the greatest freedom
comes in the forgetting
or, in letting go
of the need to remember
what the world
deems worthy
of our grey
matter.

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