46 Years Old

By Karen Skolfied 

Featured art: Pine Tree by Giovanni Segantini

I’m not really sure how I got to 46.
If I think about it, I could probably
come up with a dozen years, two dozen
if I include sleep or staring into space
and one more year with worrying
about the wild flax and campion
which never once needed me to do
more than mow around them.
The rest of it, who knows.
I don’t have a smartphone.
I don’t do a ton of zesting.
I will admit, there were some books
along the way and a few parking tickets.
I voted. Oh, how I voted. Tracy, I’d say,
tell me who’s running for school board
and how to vote. And she’d tell me—
that took up more of the 46 years than
you’d think. Good grief, Tracy, I’d say.
Just write down their initials for me.
Write it on my hand, so I won’t forget.
I am not writing on your hand, she’d say.
So I wrote her in as a candidate,
just so she’d have something to do
in the cordage of her own years.
The time spent touching Heather’s
bobbleheads—that adds up. Breaking down
cardboard boxes for my father-in-law.
This still won’t sum to 46, even with all
the pretzels and the time asking waiters
for mustard in a ketchup world.
Okay, the sporting events. Sometimes,
woooo, the cheering, and other times
all the play’s at your net and third period
goes on forever. More than a smidge
of my 46 years has been spent in ice rinks.
Is no one interested in clearing the zone?
The whistle works both ways, ref!
Yeah, I might have yelled that more
than once. How long does this guy
think I have, waiting for a good call?

Karen Skolfield’s book Battle Dress (W. W. Norton) won the 2020 Massachusetts Book Award in poetry and the Barnard Women Poets Prize. Her book Frost in the Low Areas (Zone 3 Press) won the 2014 PEN New England Award in poetry. Skolfield is a U.S. Army veteran and teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. http://www.karenskolfield.com.

Originally published in NOR 22.

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