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The Gates by Carol Stroll

The Gates


Twelve hours from start to finish

car to train, changing in 

what used to be Brewster North


Walking the wondrous tunnels of 

Grand Central Station

We got the #6 train uptown

to 77th at Lex and walked to the park


We stepped into an awe-filling,

photographing wonder

under the flowing, blowing saffron

gates of Christos & Jean Claude


Saffron like a holy man's robe

waving us in to walk below

the blowing curtains high above

the snow and us


It was a cold and sunny day

the silver trunked leafless trees

allowed catching glimpses

of saffron everywhere


I learned of Christos 30 years ago

after seeing delightedly

seemingly for no purpose

a long fence of white fabric

crawling its way over the gentle

hills across US 1 from the ocean


Making its way north of Half Moon Bay

coming from pumpkin choosing

I saw, wondered why, wondered who

while not caring and enchanted


Central Park

Then subway, train and car back

delighted with our adventure


Having told no one

I chuckled at the cleverness

of my disappearing act imagining my

voice mail over-burdened

with Where are you? messages

and call me backs



There was one message 

from the newspaper

telling me I'd given them a credit card

that had expired

humility is a good thing


I called a daughter to tell...


I'm so glad you're not sitting around being old

she said, pronouncing us cool

Define that, I thought

define old


And from way back an image visited of Elaine

walking with trepidation down her stone steps

to where I waited in the car


I was startled to see she walked old

somewhat like my mother walks now at ninety two


And I realized that day

in her thoughts, in her actions

Elaine was old.

Elaine was thirty


And now I arrive at this time, this place

Where eyes that do not see beneath my skin

see an aging woman becoming old


So many have written of this phenomenon

this looking old and not being old

I won't

But I think of the miles of possibilities that

lay ahead of me like the yellow brick road

and ask again,

Define it, Define old

for this is not it











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