by Paul Hooker

I said, “I am old.” You said,
“Do not say that. You’re not old.”
You’re right. Age is, as they say,
just a number, and sixty-five
is the new forty-five.
I have no idea what that means. 
Here is what I mean: I mean 
to rid myself of pretenses I have shouldered
since my youth: that I have power
to change the world, or, for that matter, anyone.
I mean to leave behind the selves
I have worn like someone else’s clothes. 
I mean to grope my way into the shining darkness.
I mean to climb like Moses up the clouded mountain.
Somewhere in each day, there is an old man.
He smiles and puts a finger to his lips, 
reminding me that I should exhale wisely,
that breathing is a finite, numbered rhythm 
and climbing mountains takes a lot of breath. 
He’s right, of course, and so are you. 
Age is just a number. Like the number 
of times I have exhaled as I wrote this poem.