An Old Woman

(Note: This poem was found in the bedside table of an elderly woman living in an extended care facility upon her death.)

What do you see nurses,
What do you see?
Are you thinking,
When you look at me;
A crabbit old woman,
Not very wise
Uncertain of habit,
With far away eyes,
Who dribbles her food,
And makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice
'I do wish you'd try',
Who seems not to notice
The things that you do,
And forever is losing
A stocking or shoe,
Who, unresisting or not,
Lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding,
The long day to fill,
Is that what you're thinking,
Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes nurse.
You're not looking at me.
As I'll tell you who I am,
As I sit here so still,
As I rise at your bidding,
As I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten
With a mother and father
Brothers and sisters,
Who love one another,
A young girl of sixteen,
With wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now
A lover she'll meet;
A bride soon at twenty;
My heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows
That I promised to keep;
At twenty-five now
I have young of my own,
Who need me to build
A secure, happy home.
A young woman of thirty,
My young now grow fast,
Bound to each other
With ties that should last;
At forty, my young ones,
Now grown, will soon be gone,
But my man stays beside me,
To see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more,
babies play round my knee.
Again we know children,
My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me,
My husband is dead,
I look at the future,
I shudder with dread,
For my young are all busy,
Rearing young of their own,
And I thin of the years
And the love I have known.
I'm an old woman now,
And nature is cruel.
'tis her jest to make old age
To look like a fool.
The body is crumbled,
Grace and vigour depart.
There is now a stone
Where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass,
A young girl still dwells,
And now and again
My battered heart swells.
I remember the joys,
I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living
Life over again.
I think of the years,
All too few,
Gone to fast,
And accept the stark fact
that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses,
Open and see,
Not a crabbit old woman;
Look closer ... see ME

This is an old poem and i expect you have read it before, I thought it was well worth posting again. I have also posted a nurse's reply which isn't so well known. Enjoy. 🙂

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Published in Poetry & Stories


    1. shadow Post author

      Thanks Mac :D. You are right we dont see the person they become when they grow old..we just remember them how they use to be..maybe deep down we are afraid of old age? Just a thought! xx