“What It’s Like to Live that Long” by Angela Russo Gartner

Angela Russo Gartner


Decades past the little girl
who swam in the pond filled
with lily pads and minnows.
I remember how mom’s skirt  
hung with pockets of mint candies,
to make me practice the piano keys.
The day I met the dark-haired boy
who picked me up in his red car.
The pillow on his side of our bed
has long lost the smell of his skin,
like the numbers that are my birth.
I forgot how to worry about drowning.
I’m on my couch, living in death’s time
wondering when I will see who’s gone.

from Rattle #80, Summer 2023


Angela Russo Gartner: “My grandfather was turning 97 that winter and we all gathered at his house to celebrate, which ended up being his final birthday party. His wife (my grandmother), siblings, and close cousins had all passed away. He remembered a lot of stories from his past and would share those with us every time we visited. When I wrote this poem, I thought about him, and tried to imagine how it would feel to be the last one and carry all those memories.”

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