There are some inventions
that do not exist.
Old age is one of them.
Those who go ‘there’
take childhood with them,
hold its dimpled little fingers
in their hands,
tell it their stories.
They take with them their silly little habits,
their tricks to get around restrictions,
their sly, meaningful glances,
the way they blame a friend,
the way they complain,
their impressions of the last conference
or of the coming elections.
(I have seen many of them
on their deathbeds).
They want us to play with them,
they fight against an enemy of a sort,
they doubt ideas and people.
Their hands, when they hear the name
of a cherished person,
joyfully snatch the telephone
or, with lazy, cinematic gestures,
draw their instructions in the air:
“Say I am asleep.”
They issue their familiar orders,
they steal a cigarette from their visitors
and hide it under the pillow,
they discuss with you their future plans,
they misunderstand you,
keep arguing until you
are dismissed from the room.
They take with them
the way they pronounce their Rs,
their desire to be admired,
their style of interrupting your sentences.
They take with them their slippers,
their loved ones,
their razors, their make-up,
and all the things they don’t need
on their last journey.
Even we who love them,
we, who, since birth
have thought life was made up of them,
just as it is of water, air, fire and earth,
we, who at that particular moment,
want to accompany them,
just as we once did to the funfair,
are left behind.
For they, gently, cleverly,
and for reasons only they know,
refuse to take us