the shirt you gave me today, the tunic
that's patchwork black and white and silver.
And the black rubber soled shoes I bought
once, when I was shopping with you.
I put them on this morning after having dreamt
of you last night, not knowing that the Iraqi war
had started before I lay down.
Like a distant wind you come into my head,
unanticipated, as the first strike always is.
I am creaking frightfully as I age and fight
with the question of HRT, something I should
not mention here, something a woman should secret.
Your black hair always haunted me. Like a spell
that stayed cast around me for four years.
And today I wear your black again as comfort,
though I'm mourning for an ancient destructive idea.
I'm afraid there will be lives, lost. Afraid
for my own life's quality. Am not without awareness
that the inner creates the outer world
and am humbled by thoughts
that I have not cared enough about the state of things.
Guidance hardly seems a thing to yearn for at 50,
yet lassitude is wearing me out, making me scream
for action, for energy, for passion to shake me in its hands.
I don't want you to really come to me again,
but the excitement of my heart for that time.
I want youth and freedom and nonchalance.
I wear black today for death to old ways of living
and in empathy for all people who feel powerless
about the author
Judith Johnstone is a poet who lives in Louisville, Kentucky.