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Edited, on the occasion of my 34th birthday. - Piano wire. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
The richest girl in town.

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Edited, on the occasion of my 34th birthday. [Wednesday, Jul. 7th, 2010|01:35 pm]
The richest girl in town.
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[current mental state |Finished.]

Our first date

We decided to meet at a BBQ joint on the Lower East Side,
but just sat at the bar, too nervous to eat.

We'd made each other's acquaintance before:
I was 19 when you walked past me at Penn Station
an hour after you were supposed to meet me there.
We rode the packed PATH train together in silence,

you in a beat-up motorcycle jacket and Bauhaus t-shirt,
me with a shaved head and nose ring
that had you convinced I was my mother
playing a trick on you.

When we arrived at your house in the sixth borough,
my being out of cigarettes became your opportunity
for another escape and a chance
to finally give me something I needed.

Later that night, Zoe suggested another remedy,
that you retrieve the marijuana from your bedroom upstairs.
"You're not going to hide it from her," she said.
"It's too late to start being a father now."
The pachyderm in the corner tried vainly
to shield its eyes from the pot smoke.

That was not the first time you saw me.
The first time you saw me is proof
that there's no such thing as love
at first sight:  me, a few hours old, in an incubator
in a Chicago hospital. Peering into the nursery
beside my mother, you thought I was
the wrong baby. You said, "But she looks white."

You live in New Jersey now
with your white wife and my half brother.
We could be a Shakespearean tragedy:
He's the fortunate son, and I'm the forgotten daughter.
His mother is Welsh; my mother comes from
Great Migration stock like yours, her veins a cacophony
of Native and African and slave trader blood.
Your son's study at Yale eclipsed my bartending
and work study-supported education
at a lesser Ivy League.

But now, years after those first awkward attempts
at knowing each other, sitting at the bar in a BBQ spot—
talking to each other instead of dancing around
the decades of your elephantine absence—
the bartender thought we were on a date.
Through my whiskey shock, I remembered to say
He's my father, and those words tasted so
foreign in my mouth.

It's been a decade since our "first" date:
you walked me to a café afterwards, hugged me,
and told me for the first and only time
that you loved me. I never heard from you again. 

That fall, when the city across your river went up in flames,
I left messages for days. My brother answered one night,
hung up on me. You never called back. A few years later,

I phoned you drunk, stumbling from party to party
in New York on New Year's Eve. I was on a plane headed
to the other side of the country by the time you called me back.

Despite all the nostalgia for your rock-and-roll days,
the clinging to the you of the late 70s, you never call back,
refuse to return to the scene of this particular crime.
I was wrong that night on the Lower East Side.
You're not my father. You're just a man who,
thirty-four years ago, made a mistake.

linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: haddayr
2010-07-07 08:44 pm (UTC)
This is an amazing, amazing poem.

Thank you for posting it.

Although your decision to post it at your birthday tells me that you feel as ambivalent and tortured about birthdays as I do, I will say happy birthday. Or, maybe, thoughtful and meaningful birthday?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: la_vie_noire
2010-07-07 09:31 pm (UTC)
You are a great poems, all of them are amazing.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You seriously deserve the best.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: blue_estro
2010-07-07 09:41 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday!

Also, though I suspect I am out of place for doing so, I suggest an edit for the last line.

thirty-four years ago, thinks he made a mistake
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: tuckova
2010-07-08 02:32 pm (UTC)
But... he DID make a mistake, a huge one, if he wasn't around for 34 years of this kind of awesome, right?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: blue_estro
2010-07-08 04:25 pm (UTC)
You are absolutely correct. I had missed that possible interpretation.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: dykestar
2010-07-07 11:15 pm (UTC)
This is really, really powerful! Beautiful, searching, and amazing.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: savia
2010-07-08 12:35 am (UTC)
Damn. That is beautiful and amazing. And happy birthday. And you're amazing.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: tuckova
2010-07-08 02:33 pm (UTC)
Gah. His loss. Just for the poems alone, he's missed out on something fabulous he could point to and pretend to claim. You're so much better.
(Reply) (Thread)