Fifteen and Thirty Five

Fifteen is pencil smudged fingertips

Blurred, blended shadows

Doubt

Scribbled down blue-lined pages of angst

Spilled out in erasable form

Twenty years later

Only yellow smudged pages remain

Admit it, you liked being sad.

Joy brought nothing but crooked words

Foreign as thirty-five’s spectre

A meaningless dictionary definition.

So you dyed your brown hair black

Expunged your wardrobe of all color

Penciled your eyes into relief

Wrote messages on your skin that screamed

Go away

Leave me alone

Be afraid

Be very afraid

As if 14o lbs and 5 foot nothing could ever frighten.

That gangling crowd of misfits

Knights in trench-coats and chunky black boots

Princesses in liquid eyeliner

Court jesters taped to tables

Nights spent out liberating hood ornaments

Drinking so much Mountain Dew your teeth ached

With the certainty those nights would last forever.

Fifteen doesn’t understand forever.

A lie of distance and perspective

Foreshortened to the point of being lost beyond the horizon line

You have so much potential, he’d say, hunching over his desk

And you’d stare at off-white cinder-blocks

Meaningless posters

Motivational sayings

The ceiling

If only you’d apply yourself

Apply fire to unlit wicks

Shuffle, cut, repeat

Until the stupid cards

Read right

That thirty-five will be

Perfect

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