and why not?

I fear for the future
of we who let go
so quickly of our old,

I am afraid of the
life I may never
give my parents,
aunts, uncles

I fear that I
will not be to
them what they
were and are
to their mothers,
aunts, uncles,

orchestrating trips
to video stores and
doctors’ visits,
helping them with
their groceries and
just sitting and
talking to them over
jasmine tea, listening to their
stories and asking them
about their gardens

I cannot bear the
thought of them,
white-haired, alone,
with few visitors,
tired, spent,
missing youth,

I cannot see them
in the retirement
community or
nursing home life,

I cannot see them
without each other,
calling, visiting,
worrying; I have
so much faith that
they will, somehow,
never be alone

I was unwilling, once,
to even make time for a visit,
to sit with either of my grandmothers
for longer than half an hour,
I know that I can have
understanding for my
petulant thirteen-year-old self,
I know that I can have
compassion for the twenty-two-year-old self
who began to try too late,

but now, I see the babies
have grown, I see the new ones
being born, I see the new gray
hairs, the canes, the new wrinkles
and sagging skin on the same
bright faces, I see the young ones
so tall and the elders much
smaller than I remember

and I can’t imagine us
without each other,
it’s hard to imagine
being far, though
I have imagined it
and yearned for it,
and still think of it,

but I think of them,
and I think of thirty, forty,
fifty years from now,
and I can’t imagine
not doing something like
what I have seen them do
these last twenty years,

and as selfish as I am,
as “Western” as I am,
I am not sure if I will ever be
half of what they have been;
I know that I can’t
help but be someone

but today, tonight,
I can imagine finding a way
to be something like them,
and I desperately want to.