Aging, a family thing, a prose poem
I watch from my veranda my big brother, busy this morning on the dock, who
at 86 is still able to pull and attach a boat trailer to his truck by hand, unplugs his Duffy electric boat, lines it up to begin the backwards exit. Quiet, prim little Duffy, no muscle of outboard engines, no sleek lines that cut through the waves, instead she sports a canopy green with little half circles of fringe dancing and waving in the breeze providing shade maybe for up to five friends going nowhere with no plans except to lounge and enjoy being gently on the water.
He struggles with swinging the 18 footer backward out of the slip against the strong
breeze and incoming grey tide pushing hard ahead of the seas’ northerly winds. Duffy must be moved to dry dock to avoid being shredded by potential hurricane winds lining up in Poseidon’s storm chest for this summer.
He asks for no help, in one of his dozen long sleeved t-shirts that covers his sun
damaged arms, this solo trip proves once more to himself and all of us, he can still take care of life’s this and thats. It is a sometimes reckless need, familiar to the old, to prove, although our quick instinctual reflexes and toughness might have faded, they are still folded in our back pockets along with cleverness, smarts and the will to get it done ourself.
He backs up slowly and for longer than usual, sensing the flow of the water and thrust
of the tide before he deftly turns the wheel just the right amount in the right direction, then slowly moves the handle forward gaining speed, but only to her limit of 4 miles per hour – a smileable signature of his small electric Duffy boat.
With the ghost of his old fishing trawler riding shotgun for him with memories of wilder
days, he plans to show up well delivering Duffy into the marina, he rearranges his sitting, straightens his spine from its lazy slouch, leans one elbow on the hand shellacked wooden hull and settles his other casually onto the wheel, the captain relaxed at the helm, headed into the harbor of anchored showoff yachts, no match for Duffy’s finesse.
This big brother, how age is making its home in his body! A remarkable example of
aging well, we laugh and point to all the signals we see in each other, I feign nonchalance with my bit of advantage of ten years his younger because it helps him feel he is winning.
Sharon Mooney, “Aging, a family thing”, From Secrets & Myrrors, a poetry anthology, ed.etal, Mortimer Roxbrough,
London, England, Jume, 2020