The Lost Age of Show-and-Tell

poem about getting older



Time drowns us like quicksand, the hourglass has a wide waist
Eighteen years are reduced to memory, you grasp blindly for your vanished youth
The little girl’s toothy grin is replaced by a woman’s sensual smirk
Your eyes no longer shimmer with wonder but blaze with passion
A first wrinkle scares your gilded, older self
A younger you would have scoffed; I do not
I say that wrinkles are the heart’s poetry
By eighteen, one has written some poems
The little girl can laugh, but the woman can love
And she can hurt
A child cries over a scrape for but a minute
A woman sheds no tears but burns for a lifetime
Wrinkles come from the silent sorrows
But so do passionate eyes
And sensual smirks
And what has taken eighteen years to go from lollipops to lingerie
Is a beautiful, womanly creation

I missed out on the little girl
She stuck her tongue out at me from behind a teenage face
Each day I saw her fading, her ribbons unraveling with the wind
I reveled in their unraveling, clasped new ones of gold around your neck
You met me during the little boy’s recession
His matchbox cars and superheroes boxed up in the attic
His heart in his hands for show-and-tell
But you were not ready to accept the gift
Perhaps the little girl’s tiny hands held fast to youth
When she let go, mine were handcuffed by another
Gagged, the words I needed came too late, spoken to another little girl
And so we both found our first wrinkles on foreign brows
But you became my second wrinkle, though still trapped in your first
And, now a man, my searching eyes find yours still
Eighteen years have passed, but the road ahead touches forever
And forever is time enough for you and I to meet, in whatever sense our lives allow
To remember a time before our wrinkles, when little boys and girls
Played show-and-tell with paper hearts


Check out more of Sam Rosenthal’s work at

photograph by Julio Tapia


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