Playing with the Numbers

Playing with the Numbers

If a woman is all the people she ever was
(and those she still may be),
for this birthday, I will
bring us all to the table.

I will be fifty-four one year-olds,
gnawing on anything they come across.
I will be twenty-seven two year-olds,
each of them shouting “No!”
I will be eighteen adorable three year-olds, tilting my head,
resting it on your knee,
and assuring you that I love you
and Jesus.
But I will also be two cliques,
one of nine noisy six year-olds and another
of six judgmental nine year-olds,
each group casting shade upon the other.
I promise to be three adults,
just barely,
of eighteen,
and I will be two angst ridden twenty-seven year-olds,
wondering why they are here,
if this is where God wants them,
and what they should really be doing.
And one fifty-four year-old will preside,
wondering how all these people ever got here.

It will take all of us to blow out the candles.
We will stare at the rising smoke,
and search it for patterns,
and wonder if it is bad for our lungs, as,
having had our cake,
we are ready
to eat it.

©Ann McLellan Lardas
February 14, 2017

“Forty-Seven Up”

This is my most recently published poem. I wrote it when my younger brother was about to become older than our older brother was when he died.  I was pleased to find “Survivor’s Review,” which features work by authors I admire, like Louise DeSalvo. I made some changes based on comments by peers in Baron Wormser’s poetry workshop that I attended through Fairfield University’s MFA program, and other changes at the suggestion of “Survivor’s Review” editor Sheree Kirby. I had liked the piece when I first wrote it, but I think the changes made it better.

Photo credit: Ann McLelllan Lardas