The Price of Getting Old – John Delaney

First, the cost of blood work
and biopsies to analyze
the contents and properties
of your state of ill- or well-being.

The cost of prescription drugs
to regulate your bodily functions
after your deductible or Medicare
allowable discount or amount.

The cost of physical therapy
to improve the limited motion
of your muscles, joints, and limbs
that succumb to numbing pain.

The cost of X-rays, CAT scans, and MRIs
to determine the sources
and extents of your conditions
for a clearer diagnosis and prognosis.

The cost of open-and-shut surgery
to remove what’s not needed,
what part can be replaced,
what went terribly wrong for so long.

The cost of DME (durable
medical equipment), the cane,
the walker, the wheelchair
where you finally commit to sit,

tallying up the hospital bills,
the specialists’ invoices,
plan premiums and scheduled payment fees,
swallowing all those pills—

asking how can you now afford it.


In 2016, I moved out to Port Townsend, WA, after retiring as curator of
historic maps at Princeton University Library. I’ve traveled widely, preferring
remote, natural settings, and am addicted to kayaking and hiking. In 2017,
I published Waypoints (Pleasure Boat Studio, Seattle), a collection of place
poems. Twenty Questions, a chapbook, appeared in 2019 from Finishing Line
Press.

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