February 18, 2019





He said if you keep punishing

yourself like this you’ll be old


by the time you’re fifty

and right there in the instant

of him saying it I became fifty


I was never able to go back


and it was never made clear to me

what might have transpired

in the obliterated years between


had I performed myself inside them

exceedingly quickly or had I


not lived them at all


I felt as though I had memories

a deaccessioned painting

hovel with keyhole doorway


anecdotes of conglomerates

and their cocktail-napkin origins


was I supposed to be charmed


hardest of all was the recentness

of every egregious outburst


every midnight plummet

the adjacency I couldn’t wish away

I was fifty and my worst


mistakes I’d made just yesterday




Natalie Shapero is the author of the poetry collections Hard Child and No Object. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Poetry, and elsewhere. She teaches at Tufts University.














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