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De Brevitate Vitae

by Gary Inbinder

The ache that is not yet a pain
The pain no medicine relieves
The rot and rust of fallen leaves
The weeping sore that will not heal
The tingling hands that cannot feel
The insidious prick of malign regret
The feeble sigh “Not yet, not yet”

The rheumy eyes that dimly see
A void that waits for you and me
At eighty, Clemenceau made it plain
“Oh, to be seventy again”

[Author’s note] Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) made his exclamation to a friend on his 80th birthday, in 1921, as an attractive young woman passed them while they were walking down the Champs-Élysées. It is quoted in Ego 3 (1938) by James Agate. A similar remark has also been attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.: “Oh, to be eighty again.”

Copyright © 2015 by Gary Inbinder

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