we, the ones born,
nurtured, realized,
with hopes to reinvent ourselves
after tasting a flourish of mid-life,
mid-career, mid-malaise sourness.

unlike wine, which can’t so closely
coach its progeny — vinegar,
that independent self-inventor,
unwitting unwanted of papa vino
and mother bacteria,
who rebelliously turns even
the best wine so bad,
it might be good.

awakened tangy and sober from inebriated sleep
to recklessly preserve and pickle,
heal and cleanse, deodorize, flavor, soothe,
and set itself stolid survivor
on the cupboard shelf,

after all its intoxicating ancestors
are traded, decanted, toasted and regaled,
with vintages eventually decades out of fashion,
to face barrenness out of the barrel,
unable to replicate themselves to former glories,

the vain fruit of the vine continues, even then,
to disown its offspring vinegar,
rejecting both clear and cloudy,
fluids nonetheless destined to outlive
and outserve their fathers
and every other corked bottle
in the climate-controlled wine cellar.