“The Geography of Age” by Maurice O’Sullivan

We age with grit and sometimes grace.
As time and wisdom forge our face,
We rest assured that it will show
A life well lived on earth’s plateau.
But when I see the mirror’s truth,
That lost geography of youth,
With East and West now shifting South,
And tighter lines around my mouth,
A Northern pole of thinning hair—
Recalling Prufrock’s unasked dare—
I know that image staring back
Cannot be me. No, not that wrack.
No topographical relief
Can shake my firmly held belief
That no tectonic shift that vast
Could so unterraform my past.

I know my zenith lies ahead
Beyond those fault zones I now dread.
Perhaps some glowing distant star
Will offer me an avatar.
My molecules transmogrified,
My mind now free to be my guide,
I’ll soar, defying time and space,
My ashes resting in their vase.


Maurice O’Sullivan, a former teamster, jail guard and pub owner, is an award-winning teacher, editor, columnist, and film maker who lives in Orlando, Florida. His most recent book, Have You Not Hard of Floryda, is a survey of 300 years of Florida’s colonial literature.

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