Ruth Bavetta

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The oil of forgiveness
comes plain for some. For others

it is more palatable

in the pungent needles
of rosemary or imbued

with the scent
of sage, infused

with the singe of mint,
a tinge of tarragon.

As if mercy and

were something to be absorbed
by the skin,

the veins of the heart.

Painting by Gene McCormick


I’m too old to ride a bicycle.
I’m too old to pull weeds and mow the lawn.
I’m not too old for pizza.
I’m not too old to drive, but
I’m too old for the fast lane.
I’m older than my brother,
than my friend with the broken hip,
than my friend whose mind is disappearing.
I became old when my husband died.

I’m old enough to hurt in the morning,
in my hips, in my shoulders.
I’m older than the house I live in.
I’m older than Mick Jagger.
Too old to wear tights, not too old for jeans.
Not too old for crazy sneaks. Old enough
to be chilly when the evening fog rolls in.
Too old to jump off the pier, or not old enough.


Ruth Bavetta’s poems have appeared in Rattle, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, North American ReviewSlant, American Journal of Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. Her fifth book, What’s Left Over, will be published in 2022.