You don’t need to love the old man.
Just move his boots out of the way
so neither of you trip over them.
Ask the cook to send the boy out
to find the leeks he likes the best.
Move the curtain on the bed a few
inches to one side, clip it there.
Turn away when he coughs
and the sputum slips out his mouth.
Turn away. You will be old one day, too.
Read aloud the book he has forgotten.
Welcome his children to your lap.
Learn to tolerate the hounds he feeds
the best meat to and to listen to gossip
he considers leadership and be still.
Remember the time in which you live.
Step carefully on the stone stairway
and know that he can’t hear you coming.
Remember a time you belonged to the world
and the flower of your soul flamed across
the meadow all the way to the shore.
Remember how your laughter joined with ours
laced a net containing the depth
of childhood and the weight
of wisdom which you will return to.
Remember that what you give of yourself
springs not from a checklist of rules but
from a place that is the living rhythm
of all you breathe and all that is promised
to you if you continue to rise each day
and to live each hour, even as one
day decomposes into the next.