The Chorus, by Craig Morgan Teicher

It’s, you know, the part that repeats,
the bit you’re supposed
to remember, the bit that bears
repeating, the part that means
something new
each time, something different,
and the same thing, too
the thing you can’t forget,
that gets stuck in your head.
So, like, childhood
is endless and over
almost as soon as it begins?
Yeah, like that. Ten years
shrinks like the pages
of a water-damaged book.
No, the pages don’t really shrink
or shrivel, they crinkle, get kinda
crisp and brittle, but
time’s like that, a wrinkle,
and suddenly you’ve been
married as long as
you were ever a kid,
ever awash in the interminable
Thursday of your first ten years, when
three months was an aeon, when,
like, childhood was endless
and over as soon as it began.
See what I did there? Shifted
the refrain into the middle.
Yeah, time is like that, and
suddenly your newborn
is ten and your wife
is celebrating the birthday
only grownups do,
and you must be older
than your mom was
at your age, and it’s not
Thursday-was it ever? And the two
pills you have to take every night.
How is it Sunday,I mean
Monday, this morning your alarm,
your coffee grumbling, thunder,
and the kids (two of them,
suddenly) are out the door, and
their childhood is
endless and already over
as soon as it begins and
you’re on the bus to work. See what
I did there? I don’t. The four
pills you have to take three
times every day, you might
as well be already
at your desk, your deathbed,
holding your daughter’s
grownup hand, you
hope, the hospital calm and
clean, like the one your mother
died in, and there’s hopefully
money somewhere to take care
of everything, and this
is like cbildhood, endless
and over as soon as it begins,
or as close as you’ll ever get
again-see what I did
there? Did you
see? Did anyone?

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