AFTER “WARNING” BY JENNY JOSEPH
When I am an old woman I shall wear disco dresses
With feathered hats which don’t go, and suit me perfectly.
And I shall spend my pennies on diner dishes and kittens
And kibble, and say we’ve no money for roast beef.
I shall sit down on strangers’ lawns when I’m tired
And gobble up the pie on my counter and shush alarm bells in my head
And run my stick along the river’s edge
And make up for the worries of my youth.
I shall go out in my bare feet to the concerts
And plant flowers in my garden for other people to pick.
(And learn to sleep.)
You can wear comfortable shoes and grow eccentric
And eat three pounds of crab legs at a go
Or only braunschweiger and beets forever
And save baby teeth and turtle shells and rocks and things in boxes.
Jenny continues, past my rearrangements,
“But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.”
But what if I do it all now, as long as we are dry-clothed the rent is paid? The best example for the children might be to wear the feathered hats, to bring home the kittens, and maybe swear a little in the street if swearing seems like the Thing That Must Be Done. I do want to have friends to dinner and to read the papers, but anyone who comes to dinner must ignore the piles of papers we don’t want to throw out just yet. I’ll wear my favorite disco dress, and you may wear any color you like.
Practicing seems mincing and half-assed. Let’s please be shocking together, now. What if there’s no Old Woman to be, suddenly?