The Comfort of Elders

You are my buffer between
the whitened landscape beyond a window
and now.

A few hours higher,
you can see further
out over ice where the shore disappears.

Snowlight calms in your faces.
Blue drifts by, translucent
as untroubled eyes.

I know, if I wait
and crane on tiptoes,
one day

I may see you melted through glass
drifting away on the wind
like a shudder.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “The Comfort of Elders”?

“The Comfort of Elders” was inspired by my encounters in The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto with a few members thirty years my senior whom I very much admired. They used to look at me as if they knew a secret born of long life experience that I was yet to find out. Unlike much younger people, they had no fear of death.

What poetic techniques did you use in “The Comfort of Elders”?

I used alliteration (“buffer between”; “whitened … window”) and assonance (many repeated “i” sounds) to unify the poem in the ear. I set the lines in a triadic pattern, as three symbolizes the unity of body, mind, and spirit that I felt in those wise elderly people.

This poem “The Comfort of Elders” originally appeared in Postcolonial Identities. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 149 (Summer 1996): 100-100.

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