Jennifer L. Collins

Just Older Than Yesterday

My mother told me yesterday that,
that I’m too old now to climb trees.

I think now, looking at you,
that I should have laughed or cried or screamed,
demanding to know how a mother
could lay on such a burden as fact,
that pronouncement,
and assume such a responsibility for growth and desire.
I should have dragged her to the pine out back,
the one with no strong limbs below seven feet,
and planned with her a line of attack
to drive us both to the top.

I should have encouraged and helped until she had no choice in joining me,
no choice but to realize that age is no more important for children
than it should be for mothers,
that she may say, at any moment, that she must join me to put off the danger,
but that she cannot, ever, say we are too old.

But you are not my mother, and it appears
no judge of what age means.
So, here, in this moment instead, you can watch me
or join me against judgment.

I’m going to climb to the top of that waxy-leafed, big-limbed, flowered-up magnolia.
I’m going to curl myself around one of the highest branches until the tree
forgets that I climbed instead of grew in this lawn.
Perhaps, while at the top, I’ll write a poem or read a book or even dream something
one could only dream in the highest branches of a magnolia.
Perhaps, while at the top, I’ll learn a way to say that this is the way and the time and the age,
and just the right place,
to find some highest branches.

Yes, I am just older than yesterday,
just old enough to climb this tree.


Jennifer L. Collins grew up in Virginia and has recently relocated to Cape Coral, FL., where she and her husband have one neurotic hound and three very spoiled cats.  Her poetry has been published in various journals and nominated for a Pushcart, and she spends her summers as an instructor of creative writing and drama at the Cardigan Mountain School.  Her first chapbook, Oil Slick Dreams, is available for sale from Finishing Line Press.

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