Different Frames of Reference

 

Iíve come to discover thereís a major difference

Between men and women.  Our frames of reference

Arenít the same. Never have been and never will be.

That is not to say oneís better than the other, but you see,

It seems the gap between us widens year by year.

So does the silence separating our sparse words, I fear.

 

Older men seem to bend beneath the weight of time.

The burden of responsibility has cowed them since their prime.

They become dependent on their work for their importance.

When the cord is cut they are confused; the steps to the dance

They tangoed to for years no longer pertain.  The wind is gone

Out of their sails; for what team do they row, for whom play pawn?

 

Having few interests outside work, they donít know what to do

When suddenly they need no longer jump on call, and so they stew.

They brood because their wives are out and running here and there.

They find they even have to make their own meals, and thatís not fair!

People donít flock to see them; the phones cease their constant ringing.

Their investment was a sham. They feel more like crying than singing.

 

Older men may become addicted to the TV, or to reading books.

Daily, they cut themselves off more and more, despite the looks

The children shoot at them like darts, their wives oft times with pity.

They cannot seem to look ahead with joy; they suddenly fear eternity.

They follow other people round, where they once lead.

They now sit and wait, when they used to initiate.  Theyíre dead

 

Inside.  They wear robes instead of suits; thereís no one to impress. 

They wear slippers instead of shoes; why should they bother to dress?

Like a tired old computer, their memory banks crash.  They implode,

While women, freed from children, chores and housework, explode.

Along with dirty dishwater, guilty feelings are washed down the drain.

What they scrimped and saved for others is now theirs to entertain.

 

Their centers of interest multiply, exponentially.  They go back to school

And write more ambitions notes than grocery lists.  The guiding rule

They used to live by, family first, then maybe me, is no longer relevant.

They take themselves in hand and make a new, more fulfilling covenant

To love themselves as much as they once loved all of the others.

No longer jealous or suspicious, they look to sisters more than brothers.

 

They may find menopause a vast relief, and take to sex like water;

Where before they feared making kids, they now swim like an otter.

Headaches and excuses have been jettisoned.  They want their men

To perform.  To get in shape, they take up aerobics, yoga, even Zen.

But itís hard on their spouses and Viagra doesnít always do the trick.

How was he to know that she would turn into this sexy chick?

 

This is her time, to be herself, to fulfil her own needs, to explore.

With so many roles to play, there was never any time before.

No mother, father, brother or husband need give her permission;

She takes it as a given, and turns to goals as if they were a mission

She was taking charge of.  Her beauty, too, she wishes to enhance.

She dyes her hair and does her nails, then swishes out to dance!

 

She may even take up painting or writing.  What was used for work,

As a tool and nothing more, becomes her bedside doctor with a quirk.

Heís available at all hours, this new shrink, and she opens files

Willy-nilly at whatever time the urge may strike her.  There are piles

Of poetry and half-finished short stories stacked beside her research

Books.  And as they grow, so too does she, the object of her search.

 

How can the caged lion keep up with her?  He plunges into paperwork,

The accounting, tisking at foolish expenditures. Never does he shirk

His task; itís all that he has left as his domain.  He prowls in the den

At night, and takes his coffee there, as if he were at work again.

At the dinner table, he prods for details of her life, as she used to him.

The roles are suddenly reversed, and he lives vicariously to the brim.

 

How strange to see each other every day!  How curious to discover

That they have each grown up in different ways!  But how to uncover

The new person they realize they are living with, respecting their space, Without being gauche, without invading their privacy or feeling disgrace? 

If they succeed in finding compromises that give each other value,

They may also safely navigate the ever-changing paths they will pursue,

Together again,

After all these years,

At last.

 

Nyuka AnaÔs Laurent    24/09/01