The Astonishing Wonder of the Forty-Year-Old Mind
At fifteen the male mind sharpens,
focuses on every word
to find tangential sex jokes.
After this we broaden
(though sex jokes linger,
couched in our brain center
like the flower’s stigma,
surrounded by pretty petals
but lingering at the core),
until at forty the brain
is no longer the flower
but the bees.
It darts in every direction
to pollinate the meadow,
at once recalling nectar in
high school locker combinations
and the first warm squish of lips
on my lips twenty-five years ago,
the meaning of res ipsa loquitur
and the lurch of a world that stopped
spinning the days my sons emerged.
And yet, amid the swarming,
it skips the occasional daisy,
found again when I stumble upon
a novel, three days lost,
nestled gently atop the string cheese
at the bottom of the refrigerator
while the front edge of my hair
climbs back on its expedition
to locate my misplaced glasses.
I often marvel at the mind's ability to recall arcane facts and nuances of life experience, while failing to hold on to something like why I've left one room to enter another. Aging can be a beautiful, maddening experience.
This poem takes on this constant contradiction, playing between the flowers and the bees in a meadow, touching on detailed memories and everyday slips of mind. The movement of the poem, through youth to age, intentionally incorporates attaining and slipping of memories not as separate effects, but as two aspects of the same process.