Counting Backwards

By Linda Pastan b. 1932 Linda Pastan
How did I get so old,
I wonder,
contemplating
my 67th birthday.
Dyslexia smiles:
I’m 76 in fact.

There are places
where at 60 they start
counting backwards;
in Japan
they start again
from one.

But the numbers
hardly matter.
It’s the physics
of acceleration I mind,
the way time speeds up
as if it hasn’t guessed

the destination—
where look!
I see my mother
and father bearing a cake,
waiting for me
at the starting line.

Poem copyright ©2010 by Linda Pastan, whose most recent book of poems is Traveling Light, W.W. Norton, 2011. Poem reprinted from Nimrod International Journal, Awards 32, Vol. 54, no. 1, 2010. Rights granted by Linda Pastan, in care of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Linda Pastan b. 1932

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

 Linda  Pastan

Biography

Poet Linda Pastan was raised in New York City but has lived for most of her life in Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC. In her senior year at Radcliffe College, Pastan won the Mademoiselle poetry prize (Sylvia Plath was the runner-up). Immediately following graduation, however, she decided to give up writing poetry in order to concentrate on raising her family. After ten years at home, her husband urged her to return . . .

Continue reading this biography

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.