GRACE IN ROSE GARDENS
(For all the old friends. Ping, Udet, Cesar, Isagani, Bayani, Paco...)
Why is growing old gracefully the measure
of what we look forward to when we write
each other these days? How old can we get?
Will our little rose gardens occupy our days
like we always did, lancing out thorns from
their trembling hands as they grew away?
Why can’t we have them snivelling around
instead of listening to our mumbled curses
as the thorny branches whip our wrinkles?
Where is the grace in pining at sundowns
for those shadowy remembrances when lads
were boys and lasses were screaming girls?
When will those album pictures, grown faint
now on brittle pages, jump out of the plastic
binders racing to kiss our hands at angelus?
Where, what sunlit places, would I see them
frolicking free from fears, writing love notes
on some clean sand before tides take them?
Who will bring that cold glass of lemon tea
while we rock our tired backs on chairs
perched on porches made for these sunsets?
What grace, what balm is left, growing old
and feeling gray, shall be our final measure
for how gracefully we have received the end
of days, of answers to whispered questions
of why, when, where, and how have hearts
turned cold in old houses no longer home.
---Albert B. Casuga