Twice a week, the elderly Dutch prepare themselves
for tumbles. They weave through obstacles, lean,
and (softly) hit the mat. They learn which parts
absorb force, which to offer abruptly to the ground.
A man asks to practice standing on one leg. Why,
the teacher wonders. His answer, to put on my pants,
reminds how much we take for granted, tasks simple
at 30, at 90 an occasion for calamity. The attendees
are not the most attentive, often gabbing
over the instruction. Stop your chattering,
the teacher pleads. I would, says one, but I’ve no one
to talk to all day. Another hidden danger of age.
Young voices bubble from the park beyond
as, inside the gymnasium, these once-children
remember how it was—the flips, the somersaults.
Afraid of falling? For older adults, the Dutch have a cure [The New York Times]
Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. Her poems have appeared here as well as in The New Verse News, Rattle, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.
Photo by Christian Fregnan.