The Big Five / by Risa Denenberg
(1) Signs of Aging
You may find you can’t do the tango anymore.
Your sex drive will circle the drain. There is no point
in looking for the whole picture with presbyopia.
In fact, all of your senses become altogether unreliable,
making you wonder if the universe, as you thought
you knew it, really exists.
(2) Common allergies
Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and shellfish. Odd
leftovers that slosh over the bowl’s edge. Also,
shouldn’t we get smaller as we age, not bigger,
and shouldn’t we disappear at death, not leave
a ruined body behind for others to grapple with?
If I don’t smile much, what of it? Tell me a pun,
I’ll give you a big grin. I mean, how much loss can I
pile on before I lose it? I struggle this way often, hold
my temples with both hands to sequester anxieties.
So I have OCD, what’s it to you? What I really want
is to be left alone, gut-empty alone.
The potential for catatonia exists in every moment.
Look, I don’t always know what point I am trying to make.
I certainly have no idea how someone else will take
my point, my poem, my whole damn philosophy.
I’m getting to that place now, where you will either
sign off or sigh and continue reading. You’ve come
this far. Let’s walk a bit further, even if we are afraid.
It costs a quarter for each x-ray, fifty cents per pill;
the bargain is brokered by hope, the doctor’s cut
enormous. Yes, it will cost dear. And as the end draws
near, you won’t recall why you have to suffer so,
you will only stare, eyes too big in your cachectic body.
It will be awful to witness.