The following are excerpts from a forthcoming book by Margaret (Peggy) Freydberg called Poems from the Pond, 107 Years of Words and Wisdom, edited by Laurie David. The book will be available later this spring.


Falling in Love

What kind of an instrument was I,
when he found it,
and, because his blood impelled him to,
daringly, for caution was very strong,
reached a broad, square finger
and plucked for the first time,
one if its strings?

I could have called myself a Stradivarius,
for though I, of course, was just an ordinary violin,
ready to be held for the first time in a musician’s hands,
primed to be played,
mobilized by all my busy genes
to become music –
when first I felt the quiver
of its stirring sound,
I became, imparadised,
the most priceless stringed instrument
on the face of the earth.

After all those years
of lying in the curvaceous coffin of a velvet-lined violin case
snapped shut,
unborn, but
fully contoured waiting to emerge
and breathe to make my destined music –
one day he came
and dared to pluck a string.

Life made its first whole sound.


On Growing Old

I know that growing old is like finding yourself, surprisingly and disturbingly, in a country that is foreign to you . . . Suddenly you realize that you are here, in a strange place, and that here you will, without any way of going back, be staying.

As you stand alone on this barren plain, your single shadow lying long and black across its late afternoon light, you realize that this new country is bleak and it is lonely, and is without reference to anything you have ever known.

Nothing much terrible has happened to you yet, just little things. But terrible things are happening all the time to others and may happen to you too.

You are at last, admittedly, full of fear.

I tell myself that I must see something in the mirror besides my wrinkled veneer if I am to have any calm; that I will have to make my peace with the loss of smooth skin, and find satisfaction in the gaining of something to take its place. Something, yes, that should always have been in me. Or something that has always been in me but has never seen the light of day.

And so I stand in this open countryside where there are no familiar landmarks, and it comes to me suddenly that, yes, this is the country of old age.

I am old. What’s more, I accept the reality, humbling though the thought is, that people will look at me and see that I am old.

It has gone, that mindless safety, so blissful while it lasted, of believing that it couldn’t happen to me. It has gone.


Be Still, My Soul

The rooms overlooking the pond
have enlarged with an ethereal light.
The sky fills them.

It is time to light a fire,
to pour a glass of wine.
To sit,
and wait,
for all those satisfactions
that always fail to satisfy.

restless, I start to wander
through the strange vast glowing of the rooms.
I tell myself
I want to see the hymn of setting sun
along the old stone wall built centuries ago
to keep a farmer’s sheep from wandering far afield.

By a window in the bedroom,
on an antique carved Italian chair,
I find my cat,
sitting with unfathomable stillness,
looking out.
At what?
I see no creature moving.
But, how can I see
what cats see? How can I perceive a variation of existence
known only to a cat,
who watches the light on an old stone wall,
or the ghosts of sheep?

For my soul’s sake,
I bend,
I place the palms of both my hands
along his sides,
finding a being without boundaries.

complete and sweet as truth,
his stillness strikes me into stillness.