Everyone I know is thirty-five.
Donna in my writing class is thirty-five,
Melissa, the artist, is thirty-five.
Last night when I lay sleeping
Someone slipped in and
Scribbled lines all over my face,
Stuck bags under my eyes,
Packed cellulite on my thighs.
This morning my mother's hand
Reached to get my toothbrush;
An unfamiliar face
Stared back at me from the vanity;
Someone else's stomach
Protruded from beneath my belt.
The kudzu of middle age has overtaken me.
Cholesterol clogs my arteries
Like milfoil on the Tennessee River.
Yesterday I was thirty-five.
Today I am forty-five.
I had intended to age elegantly --
Grow lean like Louis Nevelson,
Craggy like O'Keeffe,
Not squat like Gertrude Stein.
Tomorrow I am going to buy a new mirror,
Have my hair dyed,
Phone for a face lift.
Meanwhile I am going to claim
that my children belong to my husband
from a former marriage.
And I am going to lie --
about my age;
I am going to say,
"I am only thirty-five."
Copyright © Penne J. Laubenthal, Ph.D.
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