Most recently, I have been turning over in my mind this image from Luci Shaw's poem, "The Door, The Window."*
"The minutes / wear me away--a transparent bar of glycerin soap, / a curved amber lozenge dissolving in daily basins of water."
I like the combination of beauty and utility in this image as well as the passing of time marked by the wearing thin of a bar of soap.
This image will stay with me for a long time.
As a retired English teacher turned gerontologist, I favor an interdisciplinary approach to aging. Not only do I read scientific studies from the social sciences and health field, I also value the work of poets and other artists--film makers, playwrights, novelists, painters, choreographers, and so forth.
I believe it's vital to bring the perspective of the humanities to discussions about aging. In fact, I find myself purposely seeking balance in how I regard aging. If I read far too long from novels featuring older adults, I will seek out evidence-based research. If I spend a days and days reading only from textbooks and peer-reviewed scholarly articles by scientists, I will soon seek out a film, a novel, a poem to give me a more humanizing view of the aging issue I'm studying.
Better yet, I do well to put aside all of these cultural objects so that I can spend time directly with someone decades older than I. When I do this, I think of Walt Whitman's poem:
Even though I have been an avid reader for decades, my attention is just now turning towards literary works that focus on aging. I wonder if anyone has an anthology of poems by various authors on the topic?
Luci Shaw joins May Sarton on my emerging list. I will have to keep an eye open.
* Shaw, Luci. "The Door, The Window," in The Angles of Light (Colorado Springs / Waterbrook, 2000), p. 61.
May Sarton: Poet
The Ultimate Performance Art: Love