from AN ODE TO MY EIGHTEENTH YEAR
My 18th birthday was spent crying on the shore of a frozen beach.
It was all I requested that year, poetry books and a weekend with the ocean.
My parents and I wore parkas in mid-November,
the frigid breath of late autumn blowing wet sand into our faces.
That night, I bundled up on the balcony, drunk on sparkling cider
and the tragedy of being me.
The loneliness of finally being old enough
to understand that the ocean cannot cure every sickness.
That only time can heal open wounds, and that
saltwater can only do so much to stop the infection.
Sand cannot desensitize the bite of heartache,
the nostalgic pang of birthdays past–
a time of candles dripping wax,
and when blowing them out
(Happy birthday to you,
happy birthday to you,
happy birthday dear–)
didn’t feel so hollow.
I have forgotten what I wished for.
Maybe a sailboat, maybe a car ride home,
maybe a sunrise that didn’t sting.