Because Aging, Because Heartache

Because Aging, Because Heartache
By Sarah B. Sullivan
I listen because bad teeth make it harder to talk,

because overmedication, even if it is the right medication,
makes it harder to talk.
The smell of urination, even if it’s faint,
emanating from their seat, makes it harder to talk,
makes it harder for them to look me in the eye.
But I am patient because one day
I will always want to be heard, even if
I am drowning in some shame of my aging body.

I listen because chest pain is real.
Because hearts ache for different reasons 
on any given day. Chest pain because
bronchitis. Because cigarettes. Because no one visited
for months. Because heartburn after trying to fill
those empty holes
with burritos or Spaghettios. Because heart attacks hurt.
Because she died and left him with only himself. Because
she vacuumed after they packed all her possessions
into boxes and left them in stacks against her new walls,
left her next to the piles, to try to sort things out.

I listen because no one should have to sort, alone,
through what is left of things.

I listen because memory gets lost but sometimes
flashes of the past arise and I can jot them down.
Because aging can be agitating,
emotions overwhelming.
I listen because even when they cannot
offer memories they are worth my time.
Because my time is often more valuable
than my words.
Because my words are more valuable

if I have heard what they have to say.
Love this poem?  Give back by donating to Sarah Sullivan’s favorite cause, The Center for New Americans.