Gala for a Centenarian

He sat straight-backed, alert,
surrounded by canes, walkers
tv guides, checkerboard games
and the people that accompany them
in a place like this.

Hands folded, he waited patiently
for the last strands of that age-old song.
Some high pitched warblers sang off pitch,
hunched over the tinny piano
pulled out for occasions like this.

Balloons hovered above his head
as candles dripped life-time moments
onto pastel fondant flowers.
He spied the festive paper plates,
too thin for the thick slab he desired.

And so I asked the centenarian,
what is the secret of your longevity?
Well sonny, I always say,
close your eyes to dream.
Just make sure you open them wide
to watch where you step.

Written for Open Link Night at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Bjorn will host as we go live today from 3 to 5 PM Boston time. Those who post a poem will have the opportunity to read it aloud, if they choose to do so. Come share the fun, connect names with faces and hear the voices of many dVersers!

20 thoughts on “Gala for a Centenarian

  1. Ingrid December 10, 2020 / 1:41 pm

    What sage advice! Touching and made me smile 😊

    Like

    • Ingrid December 11, 2020 / 2:40 am

      I loved hearing you read this, too Lillian – you really conveyed the sense of mischievous fun so well!

      Like

  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) December 10, 2020 / 2:46 pm

    Indeed… reaching old age is often more simple than you think… and maybe being served a spoonful of luck

    Like

  3. sanaarizvi December 10, 2020 / 4:12 pm

    This is absolutely stunning, Lillian 😀 it was a joy to hear you read this one aloud at the LIVE event. 💝

    Like

  4. erbiage December 10, 2020 / 4:38 pm

    What an apt picture you’ve painted of that scene! And of course a wise conclusion

    Like

  5. msjadeli December 10, 2020 / 4:48 pm

    Heart-warming, I feel like I was in the room with him and the assembled crowd. Good advice too! Sorry I missed you reading this tonight, Lillian.

    Like

  6. merrildsmith December 10, 2020 / 5:28 pm

    I really enjoyed your character–and your reading, too. Funny and touching.

    My grandfathers and my mom made it into their 90s (my mom was 97), but I can imagine them giving similar advice.

    Like

  7. Ron. Lavalette December 10, 2020 / 5:40 pm

    I just responded to Sanaa’s work, & called her Lillian. I may be headed for a room adjoining this gentleman’s any day now. Loved hearing you read this, Lillian. Can’t wait for the next Live OLN; maybe I’ll be more prepared… Salute!

    Like

  8. memadtwo December 10, 2020 / 5:44 pm

    That’s good advice! What a gentle image of old age. I like that he’s a real person, not an idea. (K)

    Like

  9. Lucy December 10, 2020 / 5:55 pm

    The ending made me grin. This is such an excellent poem! 😀

    Like

  10. revivedwriter December 10, 2020 / 6:01 pm

    ❤ This is excellent, and I really enjoyed hearing you read it earlier today.

    Like

  11. Tricia Sankey December 10, 2020 / 9:03 pm

    A delight to hear your read these eloquent verses as I listened to the recording earlier. Sorry I missed it today 💕

    Like

  12. rothpoetry December 10, 2020 / 9:56 pm

    A wonderfully nostalgic poem. Love the line… as candles dripped life-time moments… and watch where you step! Great advice.

    Like

  13. Helen Dehner December 10, 2020 / 11:04 pm

    So much fun watching your performance … I loved the poem and I have to say you are quite the delight.

    Like

  14. rivrvlogr December 11, 2020 / 1:00 am

    I could see the scene as you read – his fellow residents gathered in song and he at ease in the setting.

    Like

  15. kim881 December 11, 2020 / 4:31 am

    I so enjoyed your reading, Lill, and your poem made me smile. Sadly, I haven’t met many centenarians, but yours is certainly a character. I love the way you painted a picture of his surroundings and, apart from his sage comment, I love these lines:
    ‘Balloons hovered above his head
    as candles dripped life-time moments
    onto pastel fondant flowers.
    He spied the festive paper plates,
    too thin for the thick slab he desired.’

    Like

  16. Glenn A. Buttkus December 11, 2020 / 2:25 pm

    I watched the video, and enjoyed the twinkle and smile in your voice as you read it. I hope you drop by to read BLACKTHORNE later. I do so enjoy the live readings, very much open mic country. As an ex-actor, when I read or recite, I imagine myself being Richard Burton reading Dylan Thomas.

    Like

  17. kaykuala h December 11, 2020 / 7:39 pm

    Just make sure you open them wide
    to watch where you step.

    One of the best pieces of advice to adopt. Apparently one must be very careful not to be stifled halfway!

    Hank

    Like

  18. Lona Gynt December 12, 2020 / 9:20 am

    I enjoyed hearing you read this on the recording! to Life!!!

    Like

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