All-American Adolescence

By: Riley Strait

Tomorrow, I will worry about the future.
But today, I wallow in the past.

Tomorrow, I will be 16 and trying to remember
if the derivative of arcsin is one over
or square-root-of-u-squared-minus-one.

I’ll think it’s the first but I won’t be sure –

I’ll just choose C.

But today, I am 6 and rumbling in the elevator
of a hotel in some state a 13-hour car ride away
for summer vacation, and all I think about
is hotel breakfast and pool.

Tomorrow, I will get home past dinnertime and
make a list of the homework I need to do and
try to see which assignment might be negotiable
because there’s just not enough time.

But today, I wear my light-up tennis shoes and
go to Target at opening, before school, to buy the
newest video game, and the only thing I need to do
is play it today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will wake up middle-aged in a 16-year-old body,
limping out of bed with left-foot pain, an old injury flaring up.
I’ll march sullenly off to school like a disillusioned soldier to war,
worn down from the lengthy battle of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

But today, I am stuck at 6 and wish to fast-forward time –
but because I can’t, I plan a life with childlike gravitas of all I want and more:
I play air saxophone, sketch my next masterpiece, write my great American novel.
Today, I will while away time, wanting to be 16.

Tomorrow, I will wake up a stranger in my body,
and I will get out of bed and squint at the mirror,
and think When was the last time I shaved? and
Since when have I needed to shave?

Tomorrow, I will realize that Today is gone.