The Right Question
The answer tells you nothing.
You are asking the wrong question.
Ask me the miracles I have seen,
How many kisses have taken my breath away,
the strange lands I have traveled.
They too have numbers.
Ask me about the landscapes, the city streets,
wild deserts and dark caverns I have seen.
Ask to see my scars and let me tell you
the stories of each and every one, even,
especially, the once you cannot see.
Ask me who I have loved and who has loved me,
and the indelible marks of each.
Ask me small things, like how many cats
have graced my lap and how many moons
have brought me to tears.
Ask me the most beautiful things I have seen,
and the most ugly.
Ask me about the great meals in my life
and who was there and what made them great.
(Hint, it was not always the food.)
Ask me whose touch inflamed me,
and whose rebukes broke my soul.
Ask me about the gods I worshiped and why
and where I have lived, and why,
and what things are unfinished,
and yes, why.
Ask me what it was like to almost die
and come back surprised, half-mad
and half relieved I was still here.
Ask me about love and endings and love again.
Those things too, have numbers.
They are a far better measure of my life
than years that come and go and fill your driver’s license
with a number to make you official,
but never, quite, alive.
About this poem
“Do you realize you will soon be sixty-five?” the woman I love asked me the other day.
Yes, I do. More importantly, I know what that number means.
I am this way about numbers in general. The numbers don’t matter. The stories behind them do,