Dalhousie Poets: growing pains

Youth and maturity

Editor’s note: This piece was first published in an online issue of the Dalhousie Gazette (issue 5, volume 153). The following version has one additional poem than the original piece.

doodles 

i wonder what this whole growing up thing is like  

the similarities between my old self and this hurried, charcoal sketch of a college girl 

what it’s going to be when maturity is nothing but a receipt stashed away in my old knicker drawer 

but. . .  

i picture it’s going to be something like this:  

last night i wiped off all my makeup 

looked at myself in the mirror 

squeezed the last drop of cheap mascara into a white towel 

and yet 

             even without angry black eyebrows and dark eyeshadow slathered on like a quick response to a threat  

                                                                                                      . . . i still don’t  

look like a kid anymore  

don’t feel that soft innocence that makes kids skip instead of walk 

as though they were jumping from one orange cloud to the next 

sure my cheeks are still puffy, 

but i’m sure some will eventually attribute it to meth and not youth  

certain strokes in my face are not watercolour splashes anymore, but  

lines  

       of 

              time  

                             (which no bawl fest will ever wipe off) 

dark purple surrounds my eyes like half-moons,  

dusk perpetually imprinted underneath each eyelid 

                                                                                                                   open wounds of seeing things as they are 

i think i just learned too much  

too quickly  

shouldn’t have skipped the syllabus in my freshman year  

that extra page on how to be alone  

how to trust others   

trust yourself  

or better yet 

                                                           read that glossary on how to hold back and not think the best of people too soon!  

Artwork by Mariana Gonzalez Vega

                                                                                 sure, lend them your trust, but don’t give it away like it’s mint gum!  

but i guess it’s too late  

and it’s all been for the best in the end  

growing up is an illness that happens to even the best of us  

and i can tell you about all its symptoms 

twinkling 

i believe we are born trapped in a perpetual state of forgetfulness where the white of our cracked bones  

and the fleeting sprint of the clock always reminds us of hollow blankness  

instead 

of the colours of moonlight  

                                                                                                                   our stories aren’t as empty i promise  

no one is the sequence of numbers they dialed at three a.m. 

the childish shake of their shoulders as they cry their guts out on the phone 

nor are we  

the promises we made with our glasses spilling  

of champagne and illusions of grandeur  

it’s not me, dear 

that girl you saw under the silver disco ball on that forbidden December night  

not me,  

the one you saw under the pale glow of the waiting room at the doctor’s 

(my heart cracked not in two but three) 

                                                                                                 we may have existed during these moments,   

                                                                                               but we are not monochromatic snapshots 

          of highs  

                             and lows 

i don’t follow any religion except the doctrine that says we are more 

. . . more memorable  

more like    

a thousand little deaths,  

which make our existence a burning star  

flashing so intensely and quickly it makes the milky way vibrate  

as we pocket memory after memory 

mars and the moon switched places the day you sat in my row during a safe sex lecture  

the guttural black hole grew a little darker  

that time i was called Mexican because my skin is tan in a way  

that scares you  

unless you chose it out of a plastic bottle  

in a tanning salon  

this was all as real and as impactful as the fact that the earth revolves around the sun  

almost 30% of the Americans are ignorant towards this fact  

there is that loving 70 % that believes that we are naturally close to great, shiny planets 

locked in a passionate waltz 

                                                                                                                         and i’ll tell you now that you and i matter  

that the true value of the world lays in the little stories we tell each other before we fall asleep  

i promise 

your teenage philosophies are valid 

even if no one sends spaceships  

to explore such tremendous spaces  

you are not a mouth-drooling joke 

for pulling stories out of your hurt  

and thinking that your stories have got 

Artwork by Mariana Gonzalez Vega.

to be connected  

like ancient constellations lovers point out in midnight picnics 

                                                                                                like the universe, we like to dream up ourselves as infinite 

                                                                                                                                         except that we’re also infinite 

                                                                                                                                                                                        ly 

                                                                                                                                                                                stupid   

and that’s  

infinite 

ly 

lovely 

“Dalhousie poets” is a rotating column in the Gazette’s Art & Lifestyle section featuring poetry by students on various subjects. Interested in submitting your verse? Email arts@dalgazette.com. 

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