Old Man

there is something about an old man’s face,
which is there whether he is sitting in a chair
or lying prostrate in a hospital bed

something quiet and woeful
apologetic
angry
terrified and waiting to be relieved
yet goading
daring you to stick in one more needle

it demands your attention but seems to be ignored
because it is just a face
the face you’ve always known
but is somehow different now
skin lying more thin against the bone
cheeks more hollow

though the longer you look, the more life it has to reveal
time spent at sea
at home with sons
traveling on smoke filled planes
golf and sun and wood and coffee, black

until the eyes begin to close
and the nose and the mouth,
deep and cavernous and filled with stories, are quiet
and the surface is calm
though marred and furrowed and cured

it can be read
or misread
like any map, curling at the edges
faded at the folds
but honest and eternally guiding

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