I used to collect coins, stamps, and baseball cards.
Now, in my ninth decade of Life, I collect doctors . . .
Specialists who search for causes and fixes
Which will extend my expiration date.
I used to hold closely shiny coins and imagine
What it would be like to visit and stroll around
The countries of their birth,
Or I’d hold close to me and peruse old, worn
Copper, bronze, tin coins that time and history had
Worn away although they still had life and value —
And fantasize about the many human beings who
Touched these coins, what their lives and families
Were like, how they cherished Life, which dreams they had
And clinged to, and whether they came true.
I even visited such places and recall those times in dreams.
Now I stumble to the closest chair in the waiting room
And less than eagerly anticipate
This latest “visit” and a stranger’s examination
Of my imperfections.
I used to touch the stamps and encourage my imagination
To drift borderlessly to foreign lands holding great adventures
That verified a life that held great and blessed meaning,
But now I stamp out doubts that plague me and without thought
Place cold stamps on envelopes containing bills to servants of
Hippocrates and Asclepius.
I was once a youthful concept of potential,
A sandlot athlete with glove and brand-new pocket . . .
Holding, gazing at, studying baseball cards
With players staring back at me, welcoming me
In their bright and colorful home uniforms
(Not the bland gray ones they all wore in away games),
Inviting me to join their small fraternity,
Smelling sweetly of pink bubble gum,
With wonderful statistics on the other side
(Evidence of growth and of accomplishment) . . .
And now the numbers shared with me inform me
Of what’s off about my heart rate and my chemistry
And blood pressure, cholesterol — too may numbers
That will never take the place of those statistics that once fed my soul.
I have become a veteran of this game we all take part in;
There is a too disturbing and a warped parade of parallels
In Life but that is how it is.
That is how it is.