Elizabeth Burk

 

What Will You Do

with the waning stretch of life you have left,
where you find yourself, surprisingly,

awakened, an aging Snow White kissed
by remorse and an itch for more,

amid these years that swiftly stream
that buzz like bees in heat—

do me, do me—read all your unopened books,
write those poems in your head, dance

the Argentine tango, take up knitting, play
Bach on the piano again—so many deeds

left undone. Do you drown, do
a dead-woman’s float or defy the current?

These looming, late-blooming years
both creep and sprint, they moan

and howl with want, the dark a dirge
you know is there, but cannot see or hear.

So you go forward, your creaky frame
grown askew, wondering too, are you still

beloved? True your face droops, your skin pools
like nylons over bony knees, your muscles melt,

but your mind remains a spinning top, shining
into dark corners, squinting in bright light,

grows daily more demanding. You rise
chanting, is there time, is there time?

 

 

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Elizabeth Burk is a psychologist who divides her time between a practice in New York and a home in southwest Louisiana. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the author of three collections: Learning to Love Louisiana, Louisiana Purchase and Duet—Photographer and Poet, a collaboration with her photographer husband, Leo Touchet. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Rattle, Calyx, The Southern Poetry Anthology, Spillway, Naugatuck River Review, New Madrid, Nelle, MockingHeart Review, Gyroscope, Louisiana Literature, Passager and elsewhere.