by Rob Jacques

The doctor is in, and he’s young, unafraid of what he reads
in textbook after textbook, CD after CD and, for all I know, DVDs.
He sees my charts, notes by doctors long gone to other tasks
in the great diaspora of professional development. The doctor
has big brown eyes, softer than they ought to be, his lips full
for kisses I suspect he hasn’t found the time to perfect,
given his dedication to learning his lip-tightening work,
and his hair has a boyish “wet look,” thicker than mine,
a forelock cutely spilling, the one haphazard thing about his mien
that betrays his vulnerability toward me and what I bring.

He speaks a long word and points to some tome’s page open
before him, asks me what I think is wrong. “Age,” I say,
a much shorter word than his, and easy. He’s earnest as only
the young are earnest, and intense. And just a little queasy
dealing with “elder care” when pediatrics offers lasting results,
a future that isn’t there for us wandering the sullen terrain
of age’s Ultima Thule. I smile at his sitting here so displeased.
I want to tell him it’s okay, it’ll be fine. I want to praise,
but it’s a generational thing he’ll learn yet decades away.
Then he’ll know. Then he, as I, will be eased into death
singularly forgiving, lost in an old person’s appraising daze.