happy birthday

the morning light hits your face

and you blink into adulthood –

this is 23, now.

it is blistering heat,

sweat on the backs of your knees.

apologise to your past self

for all those unfulfilled promises

you never intended to keep –

move out. get a job. be happy.

but you’re still in the hometown where you had your first kiss

and 23 shouldn’t feel like this.

but it does. but you do.

you are a broken mirror away from 30

and all the kids are getting younger

but still beating you to the punchline.

you’ll get tired after two glasses of wine,

and fall asleep before midnight.

before you know it, it is one day down

and you’re still here. same bed. same hometown.

but the light is gentler, now,

soft against unwrinkled face,

and you stop counting down.

you say thank you to you at 6

for dreaming of touching pen to paper.

you thank you at 10 for the way you strived.

you thank you at 14 –

god, you remember 14.

you didn’t think you’d make it out alive,

but you did. but you do.

18 and hungry.

19 and bursting at the seams.

20 and unstitched.

21 and undone.

22 and learning to find peace.

23 and the world isn’t yours yet,

peace isn’t yours yet,

but it’s so close you can touch it,

can feel it in the sunlight against your eyelids,

in the comfort of a well-loved life.

and, God, it is hard,

but 23 can be oh so soft

if you let it.

Image courtesy of Sergei Solo.

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