Time Play, Act III

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clockface2Like last week’s post, this is another I wrote in 2006. My mother had been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer a year earlier. She spent most of her time denying she was nearing the end of her life. My head was filled with thoughts of aging and mortality, both Mom’s and my own. The poem below slipped out onto paper in response to a prompt on a poetry site I was following at the time.

My attitude toward aging and death has changed since then. I love being in my seventies. For the most part it is a very comfortable and peaceful time. I’ve enjoyed being able to slow down, to do more of what I really want to do, and taking all the time in the world to do it. I see things very differently now. Wisdom has overshadowed my ignorance and in many ways I’m more patient with myself and others, as well.

It’s fascinating to me that my fears of aging and death no longer haunt me as they once did. Back then I wanted time to pass quickly so that I could get on with my life. Since then I have developed a great appreciation for this moment … right now … the in breath … the out breath … even if what is happening isn’t the most pleasant thing in world. By allowing myself to live with what is before me, the sting of life is not as severe, and I see things more clearly.

This is what I wrote on August 24, 2006.

Time has never been my best friend. There is never enough or there is too much. I look for quality time, end up with no time. At times I’ve been able to stretch time, but that skill is elusive. It’s either rush, rush, rush, or are we there yet? I waste time, I buy time. I’ve even killed time. Time is a mystery. I’ve written a notebook full of poems about it. I don’t know any more about it now, than I did before I took the time for this exploration.

Time Play, Act III

Instead of rising the curtain falls
on a revolving stage numerals tick
tossing seconds back and forth
the orchestra marks each hour
with silver chimes

In the fly-space heavenly doors
swing open spilling light
revealing angels robed in red
feathered wings propel
cogged wheels around the clock

Beyond the flicker of footlights
tiers of aging faces line the dark
fear the cuckoo’s wooden call
a chorus of fingers points to the dial
weeping candles hail the fractured moon

There is one part of the aging process that is not at all pleasant and that is the loss of friends.  In the last 24 hours one has passed away and another is in the ICU at a nearby hospital.  My prayers reach out to both of them and their families.


  1. Joan — It’s refreshing that we continue to change as we age. The change in your perspective of, and relationship to, TIME has evolved into a “great appreciation.”

    I’m sorry to read about the loss of a friend, and the hospitalization of another. Like you, I’m holding sacred space for them and their families.

  2. Joan Rough says:

    Thanks, so much Laurie. It’s a sad day, but I continue to be joyful for all that I have and the love those two people shared with me!

  3. Of course I didn’t know you at all in 2006, so this reflection is new to me. The word “change ” stands out to me here. I wonder what I’ll change when I pick up my memoir writing again after the Big Move.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Yes, it is all about change. I’m sure your big move will bring new perspective into your life. Though much of who we are always remains, every experience changes us and how we navigate through our days.

  4. Aging is tough …. And when we have to watch our friends get sick or die, it’s reminds us of our own mortality. Though I’m not retired yet, I now enjoy more of the simpler, quiet things that I did not appreciate when I was young(er)…quiet time on my own, time with family and grandsons, quiet time, reading time, sunrises and sunsets, and even errant wild flowers along the roadside.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Karen, welcome to my site. One doesn’t need to be retired to enjoy a simpler life. Many younger people should be thinking about slowing down. Our world seems to be in a race of some kind … who can get the most done, who can be the best or the fastest. It doesn’t make sense. I believe that life is to be enjoyed … to take time to be with family and to smell those lovely blossoms along the road. Thanks for stopping by and being part of the conversation.

  5. It was so interesting to see the date of this original post, Joan. On that very day my mother and I were winding up a week-long spa vacation in the Poconos, my gift to her for overseeing our finances while Woody and I were away in the Peace Corps. Isn’t it fun to look back and see how far we’ve come? Ten years. One full decade. Oh, how long they once were; how slowly they once passed.

    • Joan Rough says:

      I enjoy looking back at times just to see the progress I’ve made. I’m forever curious about time and how we navigate through it. And yes, the years used to be oh so much longer and went so slowly. Thanks for stopping by Janet.

  6. Joan, it’s very reassuring to know we evolve, and accept life changes with time. Growing old gracefully comes to mind, cliche but true.I’m so sorry about the loss of your friends, an expected event and downside of the aging process. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • Joan Rough says:

      I enjoy looking back at times just to see the progress I’ve made. I’m forever curious about time and how we navigate through it. And yes, the years used to be oh so much longer and went so slowly. Thanks for stopping by Janet.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks so much, Kathy. These are expected events, but I think many of us secretly don’t believe they will happen. Your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated. xo

  7. So sorry about your friends. The loss of loved ones as we age is difficult to accept. My almost 94-year-old mother lost her younger brother this year. He was her only sibling.
    At the same time, as Kathy says, it is reassuring to know we evolve and grown as we age.
    Wishing you all the best.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Merril. So sorry to hear about your uncle and I hope your mother is doing well. It is extremely helpful to know that we change along with time.

  8. One thing that strikes me in this post is that you have always reached for art when you desire to express what is closest to your heart at the time. You are both a visual artist, a poet, and a memoirist. For all I know you play first violin in the orchestra also. 🙂

    Looking backward gives us the strength to go one. I tried my own way of writing about this process today, so I resonate with yours.

    Also sending you condolences on recent losses and the current health crisis of your friend.

    • Joan Rough says:

      I must tell you that about 15 years ago, I started taking violin lessons, but my shoulder and wrist gave out long before I was close to making first violin status. 😉 However, it would be fun if the old body would cooperate!

      Thanks, Shirley, for your kind words and condolences. They are much appreciated.

  9. Some say that wisdom is really about getting clear. Thank you for sharing your journey of clarity Joan

  10. Thank you, Val. Yes, it is about getting clear. And it takes time. Sometimes lots of it.