Before Her Time

Have you ever felt you were old from a long time ago—
not just after the obvious crossing of a line, the going

through a door in the fourth or fifth decade of your life; 
and you don't recognize the piped-in music playing

in the corridor? Not in the manner of old soul,
a phrase that sometimes people use to describe 

the child who makes profound statements like Today
is yesterday's tomorrow, or I’m afraid I’ve not lived long 

enough to have an opinion on things. Rather, recall 
when you somehow intuited the subtle lesson of light 

fading gradually from the trees while other children 
squealed for one more ride on the swing or the teeter-

totter; or when you felt before you saw the hand 
emerging out of a crush of bodies in a crowd and then 

it was upon your breast. And so at three, you were old;
and again at five, at seven, at eight. You didn't tell, not 

until the physical years did actually catch up to you. 
Then you shone a different light to gentle her face. 

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