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Let the Old Man Surprise

Ellen June Wright

I haven't yet begun to lose my friends,
     but I feel death, lingering near us—
standing behind the velvet curtain


somewhere off stage waiting.
     And who will be the first of us to go?
Bad luck to say not me, although


I come from a line of long livers,
     my mother a centenarian,
but I am nothing like her.


I see the three of us, standing
     in front of an open grave.
I can't see who falls.


It's for the best not to know,
     to keep on living as though we’ll live
forever, and let the old man surprise us


the way a winter storm sweeps
     in and catches you bootless
when you haven't been paying attention.


Ellen June Wright

Ellen June Wright is an American poet with British and Caribbean roots. Her work has been published in Plume, Tar River, Missouri Review, Verse Daily, Gulf Stream, Solstice and other journals. She’s a Cave Canem and Hurston/Wright alumna and has received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations.

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