Ariana Olisvos, Her Last Works and Days

Ariana Olisvos, Her Last Works and Days

Ariana Olisvos, Her Last Works and Days

Ariana Olisvos, Her Last Works and Days

Excerpt

Numbers are no one's age. It is true
I was born on July 22nd in eighteen
hundred and eighty-one, but that
is nowhere near how old I am.

Numbers are not

how old anyone is. Since that day,
I have married and traveled and married again
and had children and friends and grandchildren,
even a lover or so . . .

la la

. . . and once,

at Covent Garden, Mr. Swinburne
bowed to me, or to my sister, and
we both curtsied back and that
is exactly how old I am.

Before
this century began, I made
some faërie stories Mr. Lang
thought well of and the men
who printed them and sold them and the children
who drifted asleep with those books in their arms
are all, nearly all, worm farms now,
or stripped too bare to be maggots' meat.

And all those absences and bones
are how old I am.

I have tried to survive
and keep track of my life, I have tried to deal
with each year as it came over me,
and have failed . . . and all those names
and faces have become my age.

And everyone
I used to know has gone into the darkness
and my hands quiver with the grief of their
departures, my lovers and my friends no more.
For a very long time now, from when
I was a little child, I have been
dying, and that is exactly how old I am.

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