Approaching 50

for J

With our down-turned mouths, and trenches
forming on each side, evidence of our disappointments.
Look at the nests by the eyes, we were so easily amused,
(what else was there to be), and nurtured (if reluctantly)
those who insisted upon our goodness. Ah, morality.
Did you buy it? I didn’t. Ethics, sure, sure one needs those,
but I value the wisdom of my own furrows. Look
at my brow. I know what I know. We are sinners, you
and I, but I can live with that. I won’t speak for you
my friend. What are we doing? With such good (or
good enough) lives and our not deserving a bit of it but
having earned it. See how easy it is to laugh at this age.
So much is funny after so many tears. You get sentimental
and it leads to truth because we are reaching that time when
we don’t give a damn about others eyes upon us. I’m glad
you are here even if you weren’t there. You were doing
whatever it was such philosophers do, and I was
meant to survive you and then some. Meant to and did and
isn’t that why you are here?
It’s good to see what survives us, how we are then freed
to move away, on, but never back. I told you I wasn’t “nice.”
Nice women don’t get this far. And you, well,
you were worse, but look at me becoming nostalgic.
We are here to discuss the turn of years over a coffee. To
note how much we forgive each other’s fallen faces.

Other poems featured by Vievee Francis:
Finding the Baby
Anti-Pastoral #4
Vievee Francis is the author of two books of poetry, Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006) and Horse in the Dark (Northwestern University Press, 2012). She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writing Award and a Kresge Fellowship. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Best American Poetry 2010 and Angles of Ascent, A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry.