Poem of the Week: Scylla and Charybdis

Susan Bassler Pickford, Member-at-Large in Lyman, Maine


Navigating the dangerous passage of old age

Between rocks and eddies

One side covered with indifferent, defeatist attitudes

Devil- may- care, rock hard, reckless neglect of common sense

That leads to early shipwreck and ruin

The other siren calling women to excessive concern about their looks

Compulsive swirling attention to the body

The scale and mirror cruel arbiters of reality

How to find the middle way

How to steer oneself to the best case scenario

How to propel oneself reasonably

Through the narrow straits


Growing Old



  1. Great treatment here. Bravo!

  2. Gladys Gasparino says:

    Beautiful description of the Winter Years for many of us living the experience. Sue, I remain amazed a t your talent and ability to sum up pieces of our lives so clearly and with such sensitivity. Love this poem!

  3. brenda smith says:

    that about sums it up! 🙁

  4. Dayle Herstik says:

    Beautifully written thoughts on the gift of aging.
    Odysseus had the choice, as per Circe, to lean toward Scylla, (rocks) former nymph turned sea monster and lose 6 men or toward Charybdis, a maelstrom and lose everyone.
    If we, as women, feel we must choose between bad and worse, how will we have time to dwell on our talents. Aging is not for sissies.
    You certainly use your gift of poetry to relay a difficult message. Loved it.

  5. One of the best, and most poetic, descriptions of what it is like to be old. As I get ready for another birthday, thank you. This offers simple depth, without the platitudes of how age doesn’t matter.