Maybe, like the U.S. dollar, years have depreciated in value.
It takes more of them to purchase things
we always took for granted, like maturity or self-confidence
or a place, for sure, in this world.
My grandmother was out picking cotton when she
was twelve, a year I spent on the couch,
afraid of my changing body, afraid of a world
that was too big. I was afraid to set my feet
on the ground, the same ground she crossed
all those miles on, wrenching the stubborn
white clumps from their nests with tiny, nimble fingers.

When I was twelve I thought twenty was so far away
and could buy so much. I pictured a life like a shopping cart
full of apartments and jobs and pets. I didn’t realize then
that twenty these days will only buy a stack of textbooks
and a body that still isn’t finished, some assembly required.
Being twenty in this economy is like getting your first paycheck,
that first few hundred dollars you worked so hard for,
and seeing it traded in for many fewer and less
glamorous things than you imagined:
bills, white bread, rain boots, Cipro. Age is just a number
and we’re all 75% cotton, anyway.