Old ladies lugging coffee mugs,
Books, lotions, phones,
Bundles of papers,
Come early to the pool.
Fabulous flopping hats shading
Faces: wrinkled, grooved, smiling.
They recognize each other, a certain sisterhood
Of easy hello-ing,
A common inclination to come together here before the crowd
Staking out preferences, arranging belongings, claiming
Some unencumbered space of sun.
Nora Ephron said hair dye
Changed everything for women,
50 now the new 30
Means L’Oreal would set me back
More than $16.50
As I wonder through this sisterhood
Of colorful, fading shadows.
Lord knows where our families are,
Still sleeping perhaps,
Husbands on patios engrossed in the morning news or maybe
No longer even alive to this glaring, golden day;
Daughters now middle-aged, themselves groggy with the day
And only just behind them.
Nubile granddaughters with their incessant “I’m like”
Me, me, me all day, everyday.
We come to the pool early,
The flotsam rubbish
Of other lives strewn on the ocean’s craters
Between this pool and the first time we
Skinny-dipped in that long-ago cool, green lake.
Alone with each other we relax, stroke lotions
Over the atlas of well-traveled bodies, and stretch out
In the early sunlight,
Shielded under these great flopping hats of hope,
Flaunting what we have
Before, in the slim and agile presence
Of the young,
we vanish into cooler shadows.
Sandra Inskeep-Fox is a poet, an independent scholar and co-owner of Dorley House books in Clear Spring, Maryland. Sandra writes poetry, short stories, essays, and keeps voluminous journals. She has been published in the Chaffin Review, Facet, Cimarron Review, Commonweal Magazine, The Big Two-Hearted Review, the Aurorean, the Virginia Woolf Miscellany and others. She won several contests, including the 1st annual Marquette Monthly Short Story contest, and received Honorable mention in the Best of Ohio writers contests in 2001, 2004 and 2005. She is currently working to complete a manuscript on the creative process of Virginia Woolf and a manuscript of her own Bloomsbury-inspired poetry.