October 2009


She walked slowly and silently down to the sea.
It was a long way from the village and she was tired.
Gratefully she savored the scent of the scrub pines
and relished the feel of the sand between her toes.
She had always known this time would someday come
and now that it was here she did not hesitate.

She took a step into the ocean, then another,
and still another—graceful, as always, as she met the surf.
She knew where she had come from long ago
and where she was going now.  She did not look back.
Deeper and deeper she went into the waves
until the sea took her and she disappeared from sight.

The man had found her near the beach years before,
naked and fast asleep among the pine trees.
He wrapped her in his cloak and took her home.
When she awoke he clothed and fed her,
but never found out where she came from.
After a while it didn’t matter any more.

They lived their lives together peacefully for years,
never courted, never married, never had children.
The villagers gossiped but didn’t do any more than talk.
They kept to themselves and didn’t bother anyone,
and grew quite fond of each other, this lonely man
and the woman he found one day near the sea.

Theirs was a quiet life on the village outskirts
but he grew older, while she looked just as she did
on the day he had brought her home to his hut,
and once again the villagers talked but did nothing.
When he breathed no more she buried him in the garden
and set out on her journey down to the sea.

She remembered with joy the scent of the scrub pines
and greeted the friendly feel of the sand between her toes.
She thought of the man who found her and took her in
and the life they had lived together for so many years.
Then she walked slowly and silently into the sea,
and the sea-gods took her and welcomed her home.

©2009 Dorothy Miller Gutenkauf

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Train conductor gives me too much change for my senior fare
Thinks I got on later than I did, won’t change it
And I worry that I’ll have a problem on my return trip
Taxi to doctor’s office, good driver gets good tip
Old couple in waiting room—full of complaints and whining
The wife is the patient, he’s grumpy, says they’ve been there all day
She says she’s hungry, he grunts and gripes and bitches
Pregnant woman with hubby & two small kids, one with a problem
And like me, they’re all here to see the famous specialist

Free ride on the bus back because I only have bills, no change
Nice black woman tells me my transfer doesn’t work on the subway
I walk four blocks for the bus, find out that the streets will close
Because Michelle Obama is going to the Metropolitan Opera
Bus finally comes, morbidly obese woman begs for ride and gets it
And winds up squeezing between me and another woman
Rocking back and forth against us with every move of the bus
The other woman finally finds another seat in the back
So there’s a little more room for me but not very much

It turns out to be the wrong bus after all, not the one I wanted
So I walk down 34th Street through Herald Square past Macy’s
Using my old-time brisk young New Yorker walk
See a young couple with baby, the man is pushing the stroller
What a welcome sight—it’s about time—equal rights for daddy
Three more blocks to Penn Station, I take the first train to Newark
Young Sikh with beautiful orange turban sits next to me
My train leaves Newark as I arrive so I take the next one
It’s already boarding and I have no trouble with my ticket

I got good news from the cancer specialist
He says the melanoma in my eye is dead as mutton
I don’t have to see him for another six months
And New York City is a great place in the spring.

©2009 Dorothy Miller Gutenkauf