THE ART OF AGING, BY MARIE GAUTHIER
About menopause they are never wrong,
the old matriarchs: they know the flush of heat
as you burn from the inside out, how
no amount of discarding clothes cools its fires.
How colleagues peer over computer screens, ceramic
mugs steaming in their hands, and dispense
movie spoilers and cat videos as if you
weren’t this minute dissolving like salt
in warm vinegar — granular and gradual.
How inestimably kind the iron-haired cashier
seems with your bananas, while you’re invisible
to the tattooed young bagger, hands nail-bitten
and thickly veined, tossing everything into your cart—
she knows there’s either murder
in your heart or an endless berm and swale of vague
wanderings in search of your last true thought.
Who knows how the blood boils and spatters
rather than flows, knows those
days when the tide crests bloodthirsty—
the crones keep mum.
Marie Gauthier is the author of Hunger All Inside (FLP, 2009). Her poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, Sugar House Review, Cave Wall, and elsewhere. Formerly with Tupelo Press, she now works for Pioneer Valley Books, a publisher of literacy resources, runs the Collected Poets Series in Shelburne Falls, Mass., and serves as the founding president of the League of Women Voters of Franklin County, among other things.