Bonus Year

I know something of superstition.
The family tree leafing

with early death. Not just yours
but a favorite uncle, my young

addict cousin, my grandfather
heart-stopped on the kitchen floor

at fifty, your grandmother, cared for
by daughters after curious brain trauma.

The pings and aches and twinges
terrify me away from intellect.

There’s no real reason to believe I will die
as young as you. I know, I know. Still,

I am living my bonus year, one more
than you were gifted. I will forever count

up from 46. I am three days old,
two weeks old. I am eight months old

today and feel you in my muscles,
see you in every softening line of my face.

Sheila Squillante is a poet and essayist living in Pittsburgh, and the director of the MFA program in creative writing at Chatham University. She is the author of the poetry collections MOSTLY HUMAN and BEAUTIFUL NERVE, as well as four chapbooks. Her debut essay collection will be published by CLASH Books in 2023.

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