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February 2012

At 89

by Daniel Hoffman

Still two years older,
My still-born brother
Whose murmured advice is
My solace in crises
Has passed ninety now.
So I asked him, How
Will I find it ahead
Through my tenth decade?


Sure he heard . . .

He must have heard . . .
No reply, not a word,
So I knew that I
Was being told
—No reply’s a reply—
What my future would hold. . . .

But I will refuse
His null prophecy
And despite aging’s pains,
Till from this life sundered
At over a hundred,
With the strength that remains,

 I, while I can, choose 
The alternative—
It subsists and sustains
What will befall
All that ensues
As in daily routines
With the intensest
Bequests of the senses
And will not let perish
The memories I cherish
None else ...

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Daniel Hoffman's thirteenth book of verse, The Whole Nine Yards, will be published in January (LSU Press).

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 30 February 2012, on page 28

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