Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When I First Realized I was an Adult

I wrote this last fall, when things were a little bit bleak.  I came across it when cleaning out my computer, and my first thought was that it reminds me of my niece's poem about how all her poems turn out to really be paragraphs.  So, no claims to greatness here.

When I first realized I was an adult,

I was so pleased.

Walking down a city street in a strange land,

carrying a sack of groceries

purchased with money I’d earned myself.

A few years later, another sign.

The twelve-year old looks up trustingly from her desk

and asks me to feel her forehead

to see if she has a fever. 

Becoming an adult

is what you spend childhood preparing for

especially those of us who spend our adolescence rolling our eyes at our classmates’ antics.

But now it seems that time

insists on carrying me along

in her insistent march.

My mother gone

too soon for her, with projects started in her studio

seeds ordered for the garden

talk of a camping trip next summer

and too soon for me.

I still need her guidance.

“How do I do this?”

I want to ask

as I lay on the table while the technician

rolls a wand over my belly.

She peers at the screen, not looking for a telltale tail

but just to determine if this unending ellipses of a period

is merely my body giving up on fertility in yet another way

or the sign of something more malignant.

This ultrasound won’t become my profile picture

won’t be posted on my fridge

at best, it signals hormone therapy and hot flashes.

“How do I do this?”

I want to ask Mom,

veteran of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer.

But when I get home, feeling forlorn,

there’s no Mom to call.

So I find comfort in some chocolate

and the nook of my husband’s neck.

Younger than me, but feeling his age as well.

Twelve years without his father,

and the young bucks during harvest season reaching over to help with the heavy loads.

How do we do this?  It keeps getting harder.

And our foundations have disappeared.

So we do what they did.

We lean on each other.  We keep going. 

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