A friend turned eighty last month.
Thinking of her, how time sweeps us out,
the way birch brooms clear away mouse nests,
cobwebs. No different from our ancestors
beating rag rugs in spring sunlight, watching
a weathervane, patterns of clouds, fluffy white
before layering like slate tiles. Slip into a long
burlap apron and tie the knot behind the back,
three times for luck, like seeing the first star
at night. Pole Star or Venus, eternal and calming,
reminder of infinite space, time rushing on.
Once we made corn dollies and gathered wheat
into sheaves. Gold from the earth. We spent
winter nights knitting, smocking for the new baby,
prayed for an easy birth, short labor. We gathered
flowers and herbs with ribbons to make
tussy-mussies— protection against bad air
that carried disease. Soothing scents of lavender
and roses. On the stove, pot pourri simmers,
linked to the rhythm of tatting thread marrying
its shuttle, intricate slow beauty, lace spooling out.
My eighty-year-old friend has a lover.
Joan Mazza worked as a microbiologist and psychotherapist, and taught workshops on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam). Her poetry has appeared in The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Adanna Literary Journal, Slant, Poet Lore, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia and writes every day.