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 can recall;
Among joys it may give,
Even loss unconsoled
Keeps heart growing old
While I’ll live, while I’ll live,
I’ll live, live, live.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 30 Number 6, on page 28
Copyright © 2017 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
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