A Middle-Aged Multipara Coughs One Time Too Many, Walks into a Bar, and Says

What fresh, new, horrible betrayal is this?
Just what the hell is going on here?
How long before I’m one of those
Maxine cartoons, bitching about
arm flaps and wrinkles, the futility of
resisting any of it any longer?
Why did I think I could continue,
with my unlined face and my taut
pelvic floor, interior walls that could
crack walnuts (or shoot ping-pong balls)?
This is happening because I didn’t heed
the advice of the chipper midwife:
that Kegels while in line at the bank
could snap things back to attention.
Of course I didn’t listen — I was only 35,
and it seemed like I could still
outrun everything, and who wants
to add yet one more thing to worry about,
one more regimen to stave off an uncertain
decline? Now it’s all beginning to look
more certain — the rapid slide toward
obsolescence, the obscene and the vile
and the shamefulness of loss. It’s as if
I’m unraveling, a little at a time, but
yes — I think a drink might help,
somehow, and I’m old enough,
finally, to know what I want.


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