Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature. Over 15,000 daily subscribers. Over 6,000 archived posts.

Dawn Potter: Now that I’m old

and I don’t shovel goat shit or haul logs out of the forest,

now that I don’t have sex every night or carry two fat boys,

one on each hip, up small mountains,

I have to go to exercise class.

Thank God for Zoom and pajamas

and the really bad eyesight that lets me forget

what everyone else can see all too clearly.

And our teacher is kind; she is like a kindergarten mom

holding a cupcake tray. No one ever riles her

with hard questions such as Why should I care?

Some days I even believe in my husk,

feel a sort of scraggly, dogged pride

when I’m in the midst of squatting for eternity

or doing horrible pushups and the teacher is cooing,

“You’re superwomen!” and we’re all on mute

so we can’t talk back even if we had the breath to do it.

Lord, I don’t know what I’m really writing about—

Maybe it’s fear of death, maybe it’s mourning

because the man I love snores so hard

that we can’t sleep in the same bed all night,

maybe it’s the sight of my mother,

shoulders curled in like a toad’s,

ensconced in her chair, diddling on her phone,

too indifferent to put her dishes into the sink.

I want to be alive, aglow. I want what I can’t have,

a chance to reprise a body that sings to a heart,

but instead, morning after morning, I struggle

through crunches and dips, waiting for a voice

to call out from the aether: “You can stop now.”

Copyright 2022 Dawn Potter

Dawn Potter’s many books include Chestnut Ridge (Deerbrook 2019). She lives in Maine.

source: YouTube “Kegel Exercises for Women”

4 comments on “Dawn Potter: Now that I’m old

  1. Richard A. Kunz
    March 30, 2022

    I respectfully submit that your poem is premature and missing your usual gutsy vibrancy, laced instead with a sense of pessimism bordering on futility.

    Since age is a universal adversary, your poem sparked some thoughts.

    Almost from the moment we are born, we are impacted by a primary social directive: “Act Your Age!” There is validity to this admonition: reins us in to the confines of social norms; ensures that we are not too controversial thereby running the risk of ostracization; intended for us to become productive and fulfilled as human beings.
    I spend a lot of time with my two-year-old grandson and often feel the tidal pull to impose the same socialization upon him: “Use your words”; “Use the potty”; “Look both ways”; “No more binky”. Such exhortations set in motion a dynamic we wrestle with the remainder of our days — the tug and pull of our inner urges against the pressure to conform.
    A fundamental truth declares, “Any premise, pursued to its logical conclusion, must inevitably yield its antithesis.” It speaks to the circularity at the core of our reasoning and the tenuous footing girding our understanding.
    While we are inspired to be the master of our fate, the captain of our soul, ultimately the directive to act our age tips the scales toward an antithetical outcome. Beyond a certain parameter, the expectation to act our age devolves to the detriment of our fulfillment and joy. Thus, what should be the pinnacle of personal success, (after all, not everyone achieves such status) instead completely devalues that status. One begins with unlimited promise and ends up valueless, only to be discarded by the world.

    If we allow this to happen to ourselves then we deserve such a fate.

    I don’t believe either of us are at such a place.

    Prayer of the Gentle Warrior

    May I never grow old
    Or hard within
    May I always be open
    And full of my first breath
    May my waters flow in harmony
    With Mother Stream
    Gentle Peace
    I am


  2. Barbara Huntington
    March 7, 2022

    That is the better me. Not the one who does word blitz by the hour because “ I need to get my brain back in shape. “. No mother lef. I am the matriarch now. Last one standing, sort of. Big empty house. What new ‘can’t do’ will the body reveal today? This was supposed to be the old persons gathered in coffee shop time. Damn COVID. Keep exercising. Who knows what the world will throw us next or what of our evils it will return in unkind? For this iteration, I’m planting sunflowers.


  3. melpacker
    March 7, 2022

    Hits home for a lot of us, no matter gender preference.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sean Sexton
    March 7, 2022

    No no—you don’t want to hear that voice that says you can stop. Not now.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your email address to follow Vox Populi and receive new posts by email.

Join 15,180 other subscribers

Blog Stats

  • 4,617,575 hits


%d bloggers like this: