At the Council on Aging Senior Center

     Back then I carried her books

     held her hand

     walked her

     from class to class.

On the wall above the metal rack filled

with helpful magazines and pamphlets

about wheelchairs, lifting devices, and mechanized beds

an insignificant yet surprisingly loud little clock

is tick tick ticking away every second

I sit squirming on this dented folding chair

in the waiting area smelling of must and mice

and decaying yellow flowers.

I’m here for my appointment with Mary Jane

the Medicare expert because as anyone

who has ventured within a light year

of Medicare knows, without an expert to guide you

it is impossible to understand this bureaucratic tar pit.

Suddenly, sitting here listening to that fucking clock, I panic, want to bolt from 

these rooms of looming death. How did I get here in the first place? How did I 

ever become so damned old? If I leave right now I’ll reverse time, return to my 

girlfriend’s living room or to the hall outside her homeroom or to her 

university dorm lobby where she will appear, radiant and resplendent in her 

vibrant youth and beauty bursting with the promise of life everlasting.

I didn’t mind waiting one bit back then.

I would have waited

until the end of time for her.

Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. He has published over 20 collections, a recent one being The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019). He lives in Acton, Massachusetts.