How I Mourn
the limber body, smooth flesh
strong bones, resilient spine, the moxie
and verve of my younger self. The wish
to haul that body from the graveyard
of buried hope haunts me, stirs images
of endless calisthenics and vitamin brews,
nutrient-rich tasteless diets, enemas.
My six-year-old self lurks inside, erupts in an argument
with my husband, sulks, slams doors. My twelve-year-old
appears at faculty meetings, craves approval, weeps at frowns.
The 40-year-old flirts shamelessly, dances
past midnight—the Texas two-step,
whisky river jitterbug, west coast lindy—drinks
bourbon to ease pain.
But they all wake up the next morning
in the crone’s aging body, with sprained knee,
twisted tendons, bruised hips, rumbling tummy.
A bittersweet caution creeps in—is it wiser
to relinquish pulse and desire, the longing
for an African safari? A trip to Finland clashes
with the wisdom of staying home with a book.
I remind myself from time to time, I’m old.
The body is worn, the mind rusty. My Zen friends
ask, Why isn‘t it enough to just be? And yet
how can I surrender my yen
to travel, play fiddle, write poems,
make love? To walk all available avenues
before this body folds?
Elizabeth Burk is a psychologist who lives in New York and southwest Louisiana. Her chapbooks are: Learning to Love Louisiana, Louisiana Purchase and Duet–Poet & Photographer, a collaboration with her photographer husband. Her work appears in journals and anthologies such as Atlanta Review, Rattle, Calyx, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Louisiana Literature, Passager, Pithead Chapel, PANK, Rogue Agent and elsewhere. Her first full length poetry collection (Texas Review Press) will be out in fall of 2024.