forty-four

(I’m making an effort to be more accountable to finishing my poems, rather than writing down tidbits and pieces from my head/being too afraid to complete them. This is the only time I will make disclaimers about my amateurism – I think it goes without saying that I am a practicing writer/poet, so writing of any kind is important, regardless of my ability to “sound good” or write something “beautiful”. Additionally, constructive feedback is helpful, if necessary, and the opposite of cruel.)

Here goes! Love, Kirstie.

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//forty-four//

Our late coffee date, a ping on my eye-drying blue
screen – which my eyes curled up into as I do half past 3am
turning, tossing, thoughtlessly
thoughtful –
like the way she penciled me in
flowery notebook, scattered in notes of tomorrow’s missing
salad ingredients, remembered
musings from clients she’d seen earlier
in the week I held up all of my dresses against my nudged, rising chest:
a rippling sunrise cotton, wet cemented tulle, silk blooming
daisies dandelions daffodils – yes, that’s it – draped across
the stretching yawn of Greenwood avenue, the sun’s mumbled
good night, yes it would be, or I mean, I hope
at least she was a nice lady, I guess,
I could tell it was her when I heard her laugh shimmying
across the coffeeshop, she tugged at the ordinary of
someone – more than just
one second –
she holds up her finger and her grin, but it’s not
an apology – I want to know how she roped me in without
strings attached, okay, yes, there is one:
the corners of my lips
nudged upward, kindling the roasting cheek fire –
we haven’t even said hello and I feel
welcome to the orbit of us, the big bang of
known unknown and
unknown known.

Her twinned brown melts into mine like her
tell me more, coating my heart with a milky
chew – it’s less than the bite –
thankfully I am where
I am at a loss for words, gripping the table
wanting to cling to the hem of her dress like
the little twenty-four
I am, I have –
she doesn’t look at me, no, she pours
sunshine, I thought dipped its fingers in my hair earlier
tonight, I don’t want this to
endings will come, but so will beginnings – when
is the beginning of her when right now
I am fearfully twenty
yearsmonthshoursminutesseconds; away –
I am now? I don’t
understand that you are still
pacing, I can’t
allow yourself to just be
me –
she remembers with
forty-four smiles.

Happy birthday to you (repeat x24)

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As of this year, I’ve eaten 24 birthday cakes – all just for me. Several people, on April 27th, asked me, “How has your birthday been?”

“Good!” I told them, beaming a melting vanilla smile.

Several times I asked myself the same question.

“Bad…” came my hushed whisper.

I spent my day wiggling and giggling with people near and far. I was celebrated, thanked,  gifted and loved. But all day something felt wrong. Something stomach-churningly familiar, similar to being overstuffed with cake and being asked to take another bite. A filling emptiness.

I remember the year of my 19th birthday. I worked all evening and somehow ended up working later than expected, missing dinner with my boyfriend at the time and the rest of my family. I came home to a cake, deserted on the counter, where a walmart employee scrawled my name across a sheet cake. Looking around, it was just the two of us, the dim kitchen light like deflating balloons above us. I spared her with a scrunched side smile and slipped downstairs into my room. As I laid on my bed, my thoughts partied in my head.

Happy birthday? Are you sure? Happy? Birthday? How embarrassing. No one to celebrate you. No family, no friends, no boyfriend. So much for this continued existence of yours.

The only thing in my goody bag was sleep, which I stole into soon after.

In stumbling upon these regifted feelings, I find perspective. I’m still unwrapping the unexpected gifts that come with candle-eyed curiosity of my own imperfections, insecurities and inevitabilities. I’m still unwrapping the fact that my feelings, thoughts and whole self are to be sang to – even if no one else is.

Happy birthday. Actually, scratch that. It doesn’t have to be happy. But, birthday – thank you for the reminder to keep celebrating me – regardless of who, or if anyone is at my party.

*   *   *

Last birthday,
April showers brought
fingernail-biting flowers
perennial processing: pruning my pink pulpy petals
pitter-patter
patter-pitter.

This birthday:
Present? wrap
blooming bones
flowering faces
growing glimpses
of me.