sunset-3102754_1280

BooksMarch 2, 2018

The Friday Poem: ‘the life expectancy of a cloud’ by Paula Harris

sunset-3102754_1280

New verse by Palmerston North poet Paula Harris.

 

the life expectancy of a cloud

 

I try to calculate if there is any point to health insurance

or retirement savings or planning ahead

 

women in New Zealand have an average life expectancy of 83.3 years

giving us 3.3 years more than men

 

recurrent depression reduces life expectancy by 7 to 11 years

(smokers only lose 8 to 10 years, which seems messed up)

 

poets live on average 62.2 years (66.2 if they’re American)

compared to the longevity of novelists and their 66 years

while nonfiction writers flaunt their 67.9

 

no one writes about the implications of Crohn’s disease

or an ileostomy, but surely nine years of being malnourished

has had some effect? now I live with the threat of kidney stones

and mesh infections and feel the constant yearning for a night where my sleep

isn’t disturbed by my ostomy bag needing attention

 

loneliness is a predictor of premature death

while marriage will shorten a woman’s life by a year;

having a much younger husband will shorten it even more

(although maybe it’d be worth it);

heartbreak can literally break your heart or cells into a thousand pieces

that can never be put back together

 

my cells are turning on me at an ever-increasing rate

 

Paula Harris, 2018


The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books.

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

Get The Spinoff
in your inbox