I wonder how many sneezes I’ve lost in my life.
How many times have I cocked my head,
crooked my elbow, taken aim, and misfired?
How often have my narcoleptic nostrils
fallen asleep on the job and allowed
some irritant particle to remain unevacuated?
How frequently have I known the name
of that familiar foe and left it listless on the tip of my tongue,
unarticulated, unfulfilled, craving enunciation?
I can barely begin to estimate:
two figures seems far too low,
but three figures feels generous.
The mere thought of four leaves me reeling.
Nor can I count the accumulating seconds spent afterward
when I set aside whatever bland sentence my mouth was forming
before it was left so rudely uninterrupted,
when I furrow my brow and purse my lips
as if I can scowl the sensation into returning.
In my frustrated state, I scrawl these lines
on the side of a tissue box
still so impertinently, impetuously full –
a reminder to remain vigilant and prepared at all times
as I sit poised for my next opportunity.
You know that feeling when you’re about to sneeze, and then the sneeze is suddenly gone? How many times do you think you’ve experienced that so far in your life? How many times do you think you will in the future? In the end, a life is just a collection of moments. You will sneeze a finite number of times in your life, and you will also lose a finite number of sneezes in your life.
All that being said, I do literally have seasonal allergies, typically from about May to June, and I do spend a nontrivial amount of time sneezing. So there’s that.