Just A Number

When it comes to age,Just_A_Number

we’re all in sweet denial.

A jury bribed to overlook

the evidence

has ruled that we’re still young.


It’s just a number, right,

says Tommy, my Greek barber,

don’t count the summers,

you knock a quarter off.

Il Kwon, my Korean grocer,

dyes his hair jet black,

José, who paints our kitchen,

takes a younger lover every year

and conceals her from his wife.


We all light up

like pinball bumpers

when we’re carded for

our senior discount

at the ticket booth

or when the huckster at the fair

misguesses our age

by a full six years

and we walk off with a kewpie doll

we have no earthly use for.


Can’t they see the furrows

ploughed by sleepless nights,

the six‐months paunch

straining against the belt,

the hair combed a little too artfully

across the barren plains?


God bless your failing eyesight, sir,

won’t you drop a coin or two

in our tin cups of vanity

before you travel on?

Art Heifetz lives in Glen Allen, Va.

Posted in: October 2013: On Aging, Poetry

Leave a Reply

Sign up for Friends Journal's weekly e-newsletter. Quaker stories, inspiration, and news emailed every Monday. Web comments may be used in the Forum column of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.