A villanelle

THE WAVE

          Grant me an old man’s frenzy,
          Myself must I remake
                         — Yeats

How does a swell become a wave?
What pushes up from under water?
Tell me; this tired body is all I have

become of all I tried to be; I move
more slowly now and have to wonder:
how does a swell become a wave?

There isn’t much I wouldn’t give
to feel time’s promise rise and gather
again in this tired body, but if all I have

is this one heavy life then let me heave
it, somehow, all of it, into the future,
the way a swell becomes a wave

that rolls for miles to a beach or cove
or thunders on rock and shatters.
I am tired of this tired body. All I have

to live for — my children, others I love —
today I’m too fatigued for them to matter.
How does a swell become a wave?
Tell me! This tired body is all I have.

(first published in CHAUTAUQUA, 20th Anniversary Issue, vol. 5)

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