In the Winter of my Sixty-Seventh Year

By Susan Browne

Featured Art: pass with care by Gina Gidaro

I feel the cold more
I stay in bed longer
To linger in my dreams 
Where I’m young
& falling in & out of love
I couldn’t imagine then
Being this old     only old people
Are this old
Looking at my friends I wonder
Wow do I look like that
Today I wore my new beanie
With the silver-grey pom-pom
& took a walk in the fog
I thought I looked cute in that hat
But nobody noticed     maybe a squirrel
Although he didn’t say anything
When was the last time I got a compliment
Now it’s mostly someone pointing out
I have food stuck in my teeth
Did my teeth grow     they seem bigger
& so do my feet     everything’s larger
Except my lips     lipstick smudges
Outside the lines or travels to my teeth
Then there’s my neck
The wattle     an unfortunate word
& should have never been invented
These winter months are like open coffins
For frail oldsters to fall in
I once had a student who believed
We can be any age we want
In the afterlife
I’m desperate to be fifty    
Six was also a good year
I saw snow for the first time
At my great-uncle’s house in Schenectady
My sister & I stood at the window
I can still remember the thrill
Of a first time     a marvel
Life would be full of firsts
I met my first love in winter
He was a hoodlum 
& way too old for me     seventeen     I was fifteen
I could tell he’d had sex or something close to it
He had a burning building in his eyes
He wore a black leather jacket     so cool & greasy
Matched his hair     he broke up with me
Although there wasn’t much to break    
All we’d done was sit together on the bus
Breathing on each other
It was my first broken heart
I walked in the rain
Listening to “Wichita Lineman”
On my transistor radio
I need you more than want you
Which confused me but I felt it
All over my body    
& that was a first too    
O world of marvels
I’m entering antiquity for the first time
Ruined columns     sun-blasted walls
Dusty rubble     wind-blown husks
I’m wintering     there is nothing wrong with it
A deep field of silence
The grass grown over & now the snow

Susan Browne is the author of Buddha’s Dogs (Four Way Books) and Zephyr (Steel Toe Books). Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Sun, Subtropics, The Southern Review, Rattle, The American Journal of Poetry, and 180 More, Extraordinary Poems for Every Day.. Her third collection, Just Living, won the Catamaran Poetry Prize. She lives in Chico, California.

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