In Her Fifties

by Betsy Struthers

What were the 1950s? Gangs of kids roaming the long back suburban yards. Fathers at work, mothers at home. Mothers who Laid Down the Law. The implacable authority of school, its bullies both adult and child. Learning about sex and death. Living with danger, both foreign (the Cold War) and domestic (strange men). Growing up into awareness of being a watcher, a writer. Karen Mulhallen, editor of Descant, says: “You have captured those extremes of childhood beautifully. The courage and the meanness. The latter is proverbial. But the cour- age to support, to protect, this is what is too often forgotten. You have woven them together.”
And what is being 50? All these years later. The body aching. Forgetting things, making lists. Hot flashes. Mothering one’s elderly mother, one’s almost-adult child. These poems are “writing it down so the page / will remember for us when we forget” what it is to be here in this place and time. How to continue: making do, making up, making a life enriched by the sensory awareness of the world — the cottage at the lake, the garden at home — and the people within it, the family, the friends. Threatened by storms both natural and political, storms that can neither be avoided nor ignored.

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