On approaching the pivot

The local playground has a painted square
Worn a little by precipitation but clear still
In pinks and yellows
Inside are smaller squares numbered
1 to 100

I stand on 35 as instructed
By my son, his impish grin
Telegraphs his next line
He stands on 4, like a soldier
Ear cocked as if searching
For a command to obey

“How old will you be when I’m 35?”

I answer him accurately and he is satisfied

He knows of death,
And initial fears, nocturnal traumas and some small anger
Have been placated with talk of an afterlife
That I do not conceive of, but better for it to be unlearned later

Feeling close to the pivot myself
With more years passed than I can reasonably assume remain
The square gives me succour
For looking upwards I see
Dinner parties on 43, too much vino and spouting of detail
Taking up jogging at 52, putting it swiftly down again at 52 ½
Gathering grandchildren in 60s

And I barely notice him pinball gleefully across the board
Until he stands on 97

“How old will you be when I’m 97?”

“128”, I reply, and he laughs all guttural
This is our endgame

Reminded as if upon seeing a pile of broken bricks
That nothing will stand for always



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