In the Regression of Aging Bodies

There are buttons he can’t slip in notches
And zippers he forgets to zip
There are broccoli stalks that need slicing
And urine stains scoured from floors
There are socks that need feet
And shoes that need their socks
There’s a body that thirsts for oiling
And strong arms to aid in the rise up
There are nights of tucking into bed
There’s wake me if you need me
There’s a good night kiss on gaunt cheeks
And always, “I love you”
Before all the lights go out.

Roz Levine is a member of the Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective. She has been a word lover since the age of six when she learned to read the Dick and Jane series in the first grade. Writing poetry is the balm she can always count on to soothe her anxiety and calm the restless turmoil of a brain that can’t break the catastrophizing pattern of her 86 billion brain neurons. “I write before dawn, when the household is deep in sleep. I find some peace and strength to meet the new day as best as I can, then try to shine a light to make the world a little better in some small way.”

About the Poem

“This poem is one of many as I watch the withering of my once strong, superman husband. Since his strokes three years ago, there are a multitude of daily living activities that he can’t accomplish. I try to be there with kindness and patience to help him, grateful that he was well enough cognitively to help us plan for his eighty-fifth birthday festivities this past March, where he savored the gift of being alive surrounded by family love. Every day, I meditate on the impermanence of life. No one and nothing lasts forever. This is very easy to say, but mighty difficult to fully absorb.”

Comments

17 thoughts on “In the Regression of Aging Bodies”

  1. Thank you very much for your comment. Yes, strength, love and humor are most necessary qualities to carry on as best as we can. I’d also add patience and compassion.

  2. I resonate with what you have written but from a different perspective. I am the one who needs help with the buttons and shoes. I am often in tears as I lose my independence and cry out for the help of others. Yet in my heart I thank God for all the assistance I am given daily. As a caregiver you are truly an angel.

    1. Thank you very much. I am very far from an angel, but I do my best and try to have patience and compassion. Good luck to you.

    2. I found this very moving Roz. My lovely husband has been at home since he an accident in 1994. He is only a little older than me but he has since developed a neurological wasting disease. He can still do his buttons but his health is declining. Faith, Love and being each other’s best friend sees us through. Reading and writing poetry helps me process things and count my blessings.
      Best wishes,

      Karen

  3. Arlen Gargagliano

    Such a beautiful poem…it resonates with all of us who have cared for someone. The details speak so loudly. In my case, it reminds me of a combination of caring for both of my parents.
    There is, above all, deep love.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Arlen. Yes, there is deep love. There’s also frustration and agitation, but I try my best not to add unnecessary woes on to my husband.

    1. Thank you, Pris. We do look for the light and love with our family and friends. What a great help that is..

  4. Dr. Louis Verardo

    This was elegant and lovely, Ms. Levine, and a charming way to describe the experience of getting older. A nice contrast to the case studies we read in the medical literature, which, while still important to review, are often a much less poetic experience. Thanks for sharing this piece.

  5. Srinivasa Murthy

    Brilliant. The poem brings out the value of caring, sharing and being connected, as well as the impermanence of life. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Srinivasa. I find that maintaining aspects of a life that nourishes one in some way is a huge help for managing these issues.

  6. Beautiful poem; wishing you and your husband wellness and peace. As a geriatrics fellow, this resonated with me.

  7. Henry Schneiderman

    This is a masterpiece of a poem: direct, accessible, honest, nuanced and wrenching. Thank you for writing it, Roz Levine. I wish you and your husband continued strength and love and humor in this difficult time—all visible in the words and tone and between-the-words of this poem

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