The Fountain of Relative Age
You dip in, become who you are.
A fun-loving fitness coach finally resembles
the twelve-year-old boy he emits.
His cannonballs punctuate bold yippees.
A third grade belle in terrycloth wrap, flush
with spelling bee medals, emerges a ripe twenty-two.
The neighborhood sociopath truncates
to toddler. He steps out of his blue
uniform and wails, confused. Responsibilities,
rights and roles reassigned
according to each new body, the world adjusts!
Except for those who don’t change, who swim for hours
unaffected. These get out, dry off, scarf down
their tuna salad sandwich halves, their Gala apple slices,
wondering why everyone took off.
Job was a good man, not a wise one.
So says Maimonides, Spanish Jew and philosopher.
Job was a pussy. So say the marines. Hoo-ah.
Job was a covert narcissist
who saw his first wife and children
as interchangeable with the new set,
and really only wanted to be admired. So says pop
psychology. Job was a loyal subject.
So says God, an overt narcissist.
Like father, like son. Or should we say, the apple
doesn't fall far. Har har. Job was so
accustomed to a life of privilege
that when the biblical shit hit the satanic fan,
he asked, "Why me?" instead of questioning
his luck when times were easy. Job was a long-sufferer,
but not for life. So said every one of his slaves.
Job was a bit of a drama queen. So says a Greek chorus
of drag queens, who would know. Sashay.
Job was lucky to be a son of Jehovah
instead of a daughter of Troy. So say
Cassandra and Briseis. Job was a snooze fest.
So say my students. Job was a cooperative learner
who did wonderfully in math and music this year
(Numbers, Psalms), but didn’t reach his potential
in science, and is too often on Cloud Nine. So said
his third grade teacher. Job was a farmer,
outstanding in his field. So said Job's obituary.
Job was neither good nor evil, but a complex amalgam
of positive and negative personality traits
that emerged or not, depending on circumstances.
So say the social sciences. Job was his DNA.
Even his mullet was predetermined.
So say the Minnesota twin studies.
Job was a good provider, but not a good lover,
and he never took me to Paris, though I begged.
So said both of his wives. Job was never
an eye for an eye kind of guy.
So say the theologians. Job was better than
his author—better, too, than this one. So say I.
About the Author:
Kathleen Balma is a Fulbright Scholar and Pushcart Prize winner from the Ohio River Valley of Illinois. She is a 2015 finalist for the Montreal International Poetry Prize and a 2016 Tennessee Williams Scholar at Sewanee Writers' Conference. Her poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, Fugue, Hotel Amerika, The Journal, Mid-American Review, PMS: poemmemoirstory, Puerto del Sol, Rattle, storySouth, and other magazines. She lives in New Orleans.
About All Accounts & Mixture:
All Accounts and Mixture is an annual online feature celebrating the work of LGBTQ writers and artists. For this series, we seek work from authors who self-identify as “queer,” while acknowledging that this designation is subjective and highly personal. Our goal is to provide a forum for writers whose voices might be mis- or underrepresented by the literary mainstream. Taken from Gertrude Stein’s poem “Rooms,” our series title appears in the line: “Cadences, real cadences, real cadences and a quiet color. Careful and curved, cake and sober, all accounts and mixture, a guess at anything is righteous, should there be a call there would be a voice.”