Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Lasting

“Fish oils,” my doctor snorted, “and oily fish
are actually good for you. What’s actually wrong
for anyone your age are all those dishes
with thick sauce that we all pined for so long
as we were young and poor. Now we can afford
to order such things, just not to digest them;
we find what bills we’ve run up in the stored
plaque and fat cells of our next stress test.”

My own last test scored in the top 10 percent
of males in my age bracket. Which defies
all consequences or justice—I’ve spent
years shackled to my desk, saved from all exercise.
My dentist, next: “Your teeth seem quite good
for someone your age, better than we’d expect
with so few checkups or cleanings. Teeth should
repay you with more grief for such neglect”—

echoing how my mother always nagged,
“Brush a full 100 strokes,” and would jam
cod liver oil down our throats till we’d go gagging
off to flu-filled classrooms, crammed
with vegetables and vitamins. By now,
I’ve outlasted both parents whose plain food
and firm ordinance must have endowed
this heart’s tough muscle—weak still in gratitude.

Credit


From Not for Specialists: New and Selected Poems (BOA Editions, 2006). Copyright © 2006 by W. D. Snodgrass. Used with permission of BOA Editions.

Author


W. D. Snodgrass

William De Witt Snodgrass was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, on January 5, 1926.

Date Published: 2017-11-06

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/lasting