Aging Egoists by Philip Schultz
At dinner last night
people we know, but donít like,
complained about the expense
of heating their pool,
employing an army of
unreliable (and illegal)
gardeners and handymen,
the pain of being envied
by friends. Everyone they knew
sought their largesse,
apparently. My wife swims
at the YMCA. Our boys play
some kind of ball all year long,
which is why only mud grows
in our tiny backyard. When
my knees like me, I jog
with my Border Collie mix,
Penelope, trying not to think
about the sacrifices being made
in the name of the gods greed
and grandiosity, how democracy
is being flattened into a highway
for the bitter and the privileged.
My wife is a sculptor and these
people deal in art and money.
Was that why they served such
exceptional dry white wine,
exquisite pates, because artists
were less reliable than gardeners,
required, like children, guidance,
because human frailty and simplicity
needed to be reminded of how
powerless they were? We expected
boredom, not contempt, vacuity,
not a politics of primitive equilibrium.
They hugged and kissed us goodbye,
we hugged and kissed them back.
Driving home, we tried to imagine
their loneliness, what might occur
if truth could be apportioned like
their view of the sea. Were we all
aging egoists, battling boredom
and death, envying what we despised?
Oddly buoyed and estranged,
we drove through the long silence
of the trees, utterly bewildered.
© 2005-2008 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas