has died. She attributed her longevity
to divorce and raw eggs,
which she ate daily.
A previous record holder
had no idea why she’d lived so long.
Another credited the Lord; still another
cited getting enough sleep. (They’re primarily
women.) Moisturizer, home cooking,
kindness. Hard work. Expensive lingerie.
A former world’s oldest man claimed
the secret was joy. Minding your own business.
Bowling, fishing, great-great-grandkids.
Many lived for decades alone.
One got her hair done on Tuesdays.
One took a job as a housekeeper at ninety.
Every night she set her table
before eating a plate of pasta.
She was buried with a photograph of her son,
who’d died in infancy. Some had the title
for hours, others for months
or years. They gave interviews, greeted fans.
One declared there was nothing left
to accomplish. Another lamented that
it had gone so fast. Their birth records
were hard to come by, if they even existed.
One wasn’t sure what day she was born,
but her marriage license confirmed the year.
They fought for women’s suffrage,
endured Jim Crow, lost count
of wars. Most passed quickly
and peacefully. The person who lived
to the greatest confirmed age thus far
was a chain-smoker
who quit when she could no longer see
well enough to light a cigarette.
She wanted to go to the moon.
She ate two pounds of chocolate each week.