Monday, March 11, 2013

Suddenly Sixty and Other Shocks of Later Life, by Judith Viorst

I haven't read one of Judith Viorst's decades books for quite a while, perhaps decades. But Suddenly Sixty called to me from the shelf when I was at the library this morning. As with her earlier collections, the poems in Suddenly Sixty are far from perfect, but they are entertaining. Viorst has a way of identifying the anxieties and irritations of the stages of a woman's life--and writing about them in humorous rhyme. For example, "A Whole Other Stage" begins with the line "I've reached the stage where my lawyer, my broker, my allergies, and my president are all significantly younger than I" and goes on to recount such other indicators of the state of mind the 60s puts you in as worrying about cardiac arrest before infidelity when your husband doesn't answer the phone at 6 a.m. Even some of the titles made me chuckle: "So My Husband and I Decided to Take a Car Trip Throuogh New England" and "When Asked If I Thought That I'd Finally Got It Together."

Occasionally, Viorst veers into more serious territory, as when she writes about cemetery plots or asks if she did something wrong in raising the child who "is stumbling through jungles of bitterest black,/Lost in the fog that he buys,/ Wearing a rebel's disguise,/Unwilling, or unable, to come back."  She also writes of the joy of having grandchildren:

He rushes to greet her,
His arms outstretched,
Joyfully calling her name,
When he sees her arrive.

Ah, yes. Viorst does know what it's like to be 60.

Favorite passage:
I wish you, I wish you
A dream worth the doing.
And fortune's face smiling
On all you're pursuing.
And pleasures that far far
Outweigh your small sorrows.
Arms opened wide to embrace your tomorrows.

(Wouldn't this make a good toast? I love a nice rhyming toast.)

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