All in by Susan Browne

by Susan Browne

Scrolling down my iPhone calendar, I stop at 2071.
That year, my birthday is on a Sunday. I’ll be 119.
If I had to add it all up, I’d say I was way too normal.
I can’t believe I spent a minute feeling guilty
for having lots of boyfriends in my youth
or having sex with two men in one day. It wasn’t easy
getting from the east side of town to the west side
on my bicycle in time. I should keep the faith.
Yesterday, I was in a hot tub with two men.
They were discussing earthquake preparedness.
One said he had a kit that could filter
any kind of water, including sewage.
The other said he had a rafter built in his garage
to protect his car, and it could support
the local high school cheerleading squad doing pull-ups.
Or so the builder advertised. I have nothing prepared
for an emergency, except a gallon of Tanqueray
in the cupboard above the oven because I gave up gin
after my second divorce. Maybe this means I have faith
in something. At least twice a week I wake up astonished
at how living calmly goes on, shoulder to shoulder
with unreckonable tragedy. The men paused
to take a scrolling glance when I stepped out of the hot tub.
Then they went on about where to store the food
and the importance of keeping a pair of running shoes
under the desk at the office.



Susan Browne’s poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, The Sun, Subtropics, The Southern Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Superstition Review, American Life in Poetry, and 180 More, Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. Her first book, Buddha’s Dogs (Four Way Books), was awarded the Intro Prize. Her second book, Zephyr (Steel Toe Books), won the Editor’s Prize. For more, see