Editor’s Note: This original poem was written by Keyen Bingaman
You were in the throes of old age
The day I was born.
When I turned five,
You gave me a firetruck the size of my arm.
The reds gleamed in the light
But paled in comparison to the twinkle in your eyes.
Your tender hands, wrinkled with wisdom,
Brushed my face as you whispered,
Like the wind through the trees before a storm.
Always remember this day. You only turn five once.
The muscles in your face dragged the skin
Into a sage smile of unconditional kindness.
I remembered the firetruck instead.
Wisdom is wasted on the young
And rediscovered in maturity.
By the time I relearned
Everything you taught me,
I could return it to you.
You did not remember, so I reminded you.
The sound of a rocking chair
On uneven floorboards
Cracked the silence.
The familiar soapy scent of old people and cats
Pervaded my nostrils.
I told you on your birthday, one last time,
Always remember this day. You only turn 99 once.