#96: An Extra 5 Years To Live

So these folks made a video
to call attention to the fact that
today’s generation of children
is for the first time in history
expected to die five years earlier
than their parents. The film-
makers asked a bunch of kids
what they would do with another
five years to live. This is a poem
about a few of my favorite
responses to the question:

I would get more hamsters.

I would be the boss of all
the chipmunks.

I would try to fix
everything I did bad.

I was thinking about making,
like a helicopter, like a wooden helicopter;
but I don’t have any wood.

I’d want to go check out the moon sometime.

If I had five more extra years to live,
I don’t really know; I think I’d do ANYTHING.

Only one of these kids says the thing
you’d expect her to say–or the thing
you’d think would get people to care
about making sure this prediction
isn’t borne out in her future:
I would make medicine for the sick.
But what interests me more are
the absolutely mundane ones, hamsters,
for example, and the responses beyond the realm
of possibility, the time machine,
running at the speed of light,
having complete authority over
chipmunks, and somehow these
kids’ answers seem more effective,
because more adorable, imaginative,
expansive, and resonant.

I would bring my uncle back
because I miss him very much

With an extra five years,
I’m convinced this kid just might
be able to pull it off.



Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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