On Being Ninety
On Being Ninety

The clown is quieter now,
but somewhere in the back of my closet
is a large red nose.

I try to keep on the move,
but at times I find my feet
on separate paths.

I like to think that my heart
is as big as ever–
even when it doesn’t keep time.

If I had a chance to do all of it
over again,
who would I be?

So what if I’m not quite ninety.
Don’t they say it’s a virtue
to look to the future?

Perhaps the first ninety years
will turn out to be
only a good beginning.

– –

“On Being Ninety” is from The Life That I Have, which appeared last year.  As the poem implies, I actually wrote it when I was still 89.

Knute Skinner

KNUTE SKINNER lives in Killaspuglonane, County Clare, his home for the past fifty-five years. His poetry has appeared widely in Ireland, Britain, Australia and North America. He is the author of sixteen books of verse including a collected edition, Fifty Years: Poems 1957-2007, which appeared from Salmon. A memoir, Help Me to a Getaway, was published by Salmon in 2010.


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I found Edna stretched out there, absorbing the sun. “You look just like a cat,” I announced and put down my armload of books. “Do you also purr?” “I purr...
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Disconnected, heavily defended, I avoid you when I pass you in the street, our eyes don’t meet, like empty shuttles they seem to be travelling nowhere. Disconnected, heavily defended, I...
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