Michael Gottlieb / Letters to a Middle-Aged Poet / 22


You of all people. You, who was never supposed to get old.

You, who was, like so many of your time, not only determined not to grow old but who definitively, defiantly, claimed to welcome an early demise instead of the decline and decay which seemed the only alternative (and how wrong were we?), an alternative which so many of our peers – we now believe we can look back and see – were all too eager to explore. You, who – we were sure, despite those foolhardy claims – would easily survive your peers, since, in fact, virtually all of them were five, ten, even more years older than you… You too, you did get old like the rest of us, or you began to.

But now you too, somehow, despite all this, despite the caveats and the conditions you called out and which we credulously – it was credulity, wasn’t it – agreed to, all of that is now, like you, gone, utterly gone. And you’ve left us, left us here. To continue to age, while you are preserved in death, remaining not-quite-old. A remonstrance and reminder to us: this is where we too once lived, where, and when, things were just starting to go, to go downhill with some decided alacrity – what a happy time and place that seems now. And yet, that was somewhere you could not abide.

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