By Karen Paul Holmes

The media has been shooting its label gun
at me lately,
when I’ve been trying to believe
I’m the same as fifty years ago—all Renoir color.

My mother survived cancer at eighty, believing
she didn’t have it.
Like me, she never felt different from herself.
Now, maybe a few creaks in my knees and hips,
and cellphone in the fridge by mistake,
I still dance to Bruno Mars,

which I will do at my wedding
though it awaits a time
when family can travel across states and seas
gathering to toast this last-chapter happiness.

Last night: Adirondack chairs by the fire,
embers and wine mesmerizing us.
We made up messages
the rising sparks might send.
Our marshmallows found a niche glowing sunset-red—
we licked each gummy finger clean.

I read poetry on the porch today to the murmur
of the ceiling fan
and watched his sweet, smooth face
sleep in the hammock.
My hale, not-elderly-to-me man.

Leaving the house, we wear masks.
They hide smile lines but not the rings
under our eyes.
If one of us gets home after the other, we meet
outside the door and kiss and kiss,
hoping the porch light won’t suddenly click on. 

Karen Paul Holmes has two poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014).Her poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Tracy K. Smith’s The Slowdown. Publications include Prairie Schooner, Pedestal Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Diode Poetry Journal, and many more.Varada J.M is a 9th-grader based in Kerala’s Koyilandi, studying at Rani Public School, Vadakara. After hurriedly doing homework, Varada divides her time between practicing classical dance and watching horror films. She loves dogs but nobody at home wants one.