Stop this Train!
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I had a plan…
for being old.
a definitive ambition
a concise picture
a specific destination on the train
I thought I’d boarded earlier.
But now I wonder
when, exactly, was I beamed aboard this other train?
I must have been asleep!
I must have been transported, like in Star Trek!
Sure don’t recall getting off or transferring
and yet, the view out the window isn’t right…
I’m sure of that.
I used to see ahead so clearly,
the view from the front in particular;
tracks winding off through a well-established landscape
each station picturesque,
pearls along a necklace,
Landmarks I could recognize.
“Next stop, 35!” shouted the conductor,
“Have your ticket punched!
Be sure to
take your belongings, when you disembark!”
Maybe that’s what happened.
I got off to look around,
then the train took off without me.
I thought it was the same when I re-boarded
but a different train had rolled into the station
and I got on, anyway
never guessing it would switch tracks shortly up the line (“Next stop, 45!”)
taking some aberrant, wild route to
some aberrant, pixielated place
I wouldn’t recognize at all.
So all the travel-folders and brochures I used to study oh so carefully,
would mean exactly nothing,
jokers in my deck of cards.
And all the cards are jokers, suddenly.
Someone changed the name on my ticket
without so much as telling me that I was Alice
on a ride through Never-Never-Land;
Which must be true!
Because the landscape is peculiar here,
a world turned topsy-turvy
not at all familiar or expected.
The view is outlandish and bizarre,
and I am just like Robert Heinlein, now
A Stranger in a Strange Land
It wouldn’t be so bad
if I hadn’t memorized the map
I used to have,
one they gave me Way Back When
(Labeled, “This is how it’s going to be”).
The one with all the pictures
which I also put to memory;
some my grandmothers, some from aunts,
some from friends, some from movies,
some from books and television shows
all describing stations up ahead
which just ain’t here.
Not in Crazy-World
The pictures lie!
My travel-flyers are a fiction
and I didn’t even pack the right cosmetics for this
because the gear I brought
designed for comfort
doesn’t fit the bill.
I was supposed to have another kind of wardrobe here
But everyone was going to be my age!
And we would look just like those photos
in my albums and those vintage movies:
older but wiser
kindly women (weren’t they?)
wearing sturdy shoes
crinkles right around the eyes
hair of gray
broad around the hips
“matronly,” they used to say —
a word no longer uttered in this changeling place
where Raquel Welch can pass for 32
and Joan Rivers stopped at 38
and anti-wrinkle creams are advertised for “anybody over 35,”
and judging by the adverts
it is not ok to come here really being old
(not unless you’re svelte and elegant! and then,
you get to play that oh-so-caring grandma on the Life Insurance ads).
Be sure to plan your funeral, now! It must be imminent
or else, the one they talk about behind her back
as in, “Whatever will we do with Gramma, now that she’s forgetting
where she put her keys?”
I keep calling the conductor
But he, it seems
got off some time ago.
We’ve been hijacked from the looks of it.
I’m sure the engineers are clowns.
The stewards came with dinner, earlier
(Will it be the Crone Special, or the Post-Menopausal Stew?" they said
and I said, “Bugger off! Bring me a martini and a
But that just caused them consternation
(I was hoping, they would kick me off)
Which they didn’t.
No such luck!
And here I sit,
“Next stop, 65!”
(Be sure to check our Senior Discounts on Depends!)
I’m pretty sure I should have caught a bus
Maybe I could just walk off and head into the woods.
Hard to leave a speeding train.
Me, I’m looking for a refund.
(Reflections on another birthday. Can’t really stop the ride, but we can sure as heck write our own itinerary on the way! )
Alternate title – Still Crazy, After all These Years!
A collage, done from my own material. The woman and the little girl are really mannequins.