To a Woman Approaching Her First Spring as a Fifty-Year-Old

To a Woman Approaching Her First Spring as a Fifty-Year-Old

By Elizabeth Harper

So you just turned
fifty,
the big five-0!
Say it softly.
You don’t want your nosy neighbors
to know.

You know the ones—
with their color TVs
and curlers in their hair.
They’re watching you,
monitoring for changes
in your slowly-but-surely
progressing despair.

Walk away from that curtain!
Turn your back on venetian blinds!
Take off your shoes
and sleep in the nude
on top of the sheets
in the afternoon—
Free your mind!

While your neighbors grow old
and scared of things
that go bump in the night,
you’re going to turn
everything around,
inside out
and upside down.
Paint the town
any color you wish!
The neighbors will gasp,
“Spring cleaning was
never like this!”

Throw away the wrinkle cream!
Pack up each old ladylike dress!
Move on in the morning!
Hitchhike out West!
There the sun is mostly shining,
and the smell of horse manure is in the air.
There’s a ranch hand named Jack Daniels,
and he thinks you’re pretty fair.

Fall in love with a cowboy,
or go and catch a falling star.
Travel to the ends of the earth
in a little red sports car.

 

 

Poem written by my twenty-year-old self to my fifty-year-old self in a poetry workshop at Columbia College spring 1988.

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