“Ode to Retirement,” by Annette Sisson

Apr 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Poetry

And I shall let my hair go gray. Not
that it’s white like the shiny pearl of baby teeth,

nor gleaming like the stainless appliances I polish
in the kitchen. I shall let my hair go gray—

silver-white, the fading threads weaving
into the dark brown mass, and I shall call

this mongrel color of mine aging gracefully.
And I shall save thousands of dollars with this new

no-particular color. For retirement. Naturally.
But you and I cannot agree what’s

best, what retirement should look like,
its preferred location, and when we do it’s not

what’s affordable—not even with my cost-saving
not-exactly-gray head of hair.

A place not too far from the city,
with a workshop, a place with mature trees—please,

no hackberries—and with sunny garden spots
for flowers and vegetables and natives, and ideally a creek.

With fish. A place where we can build
the perfect house with two offices and a music

room and a place for every book, and screened-in
porches and fireplaces. It must be the right

size, and not deplete our retirement savings.
A place our not-yet grandchildren would find

entertaining, even on gray days, when their moods
are cloudy and overcast, like ours as we contemplate

retirement. And I, regarding myself in the mirror, cannot
decide what color my motley hair is

any more than the two of us can settle
the right place to grow old among trees

and water and books, with sun for our gray-brown
days, and our mostly white teeth still

set in the garden spot of our mouths, and me
wondering if it’s too late to go in for highlights.


Annette Sisson has published poems in Nashville Review, Typishly, One, HeartWood Literary Magazine, Cordella, Kosmos Quarterly, Psaltery & Lyre, The West Review, and many others. She published a chapbook, A Casting Off, in May 2019 (Finishing Line) and was named a 2020 BOAAT Writing Fellow, received honorable mention in Passager‘s 2019 poetry contest, and won The Porch Writers’ Collective’s 2019 poetry prize. Her recent book-length poetry manuscript, Small Fish in High Branches, was a finalist with Glass Lyre Press and a semifinalist in the Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry (U of Wisconsin Press). Visit her website: http://annettesisson.com

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