b i r t h d a y s

   t w e n t y .
that’s the amount of pain
i have to write through.
twenty years worth of poetry
in a fast-decaying body.

  n i n e t e e n .
midnight escapades,
watching streetlights from the roof
perilously winding roads
and a sign saying “to hell” and “to heaven”
pulling warmth into my skin:
forever a perfect summer – Tofino.

   e i g h t e e n .
i will always remember loving you
despite not remembering you
but my heart aches with the intensity
of a thousand burning suns
if i close my eyes
and try hard enough

   s e v e n t e e n .
the danger of fleeing home came
with the realization that
the world was bigger than i knew
and Manhattan beckoned
with his words of honey;

   s i x t e e n .
dark rooms and awkward fumbling
through the beginnings of awakenings
dotted by the abstract art of kissing
i remember you asking me,
“will you be my girlfriend”,
before I nodded and broke your heart.

   f i f t e e n .
the end of beginnings were
the beginnings of ends
and i understood with heavy simplicity
the implications of growing up
sentences too long
and touches too fast.

   f o u r t e e n .
you were a long shot in the dark
with your pretty eyes
running with me through the rain
and that crooked smile
all i remember of first dates:
cheeseburgers and ice cream.

   t h i r t e e n .
stolen first kisses in the languid heat of
perpetual summer
we dipped our toes in lapping pool water
and learnt through swimming lessons that
first loves hurt but time moves on.
i don’t quite recall you anymore.

   t w e l v e .
i felt like an alien.
surrounded by a sea of many
yet completely alone
as though my brain was on AM 
and everyone else was WKRZ.
even now, it makes no sense.
i stopped trying.

   e l e v e n .
i remember the trickling warmth
of pee as it soaked into my skirt
from the bunny sitting in my lap
and the imagery makes me laugh
because of the unexpected warmth
that often comes from reminiscence.

   t e n .
we wrote our lives into alter egos
with blonde hair and strawberry flavoured lip gloss
forming superheroes in our minds
because we were young
with nothing but boundless energy
and limitless imaginations. 

   n i n e .
i got 
my first glimpse
and couldn’t put down
the magic that
define childhood
the rest of forever.

   e i g h t .
i swung from monkey bars
with the nimble arms of uncaring 
as she taught me to let go
of my fears and tumble
headfirst into the rush of unknown:
i mastered how to
do a backward flip on that damned pole.

   s e v e n .
the aching lonely starts
from playground antics
my best friend ran from me
and taunted by the need to
try and fit in.
i surrendered.
giving birth to a desperate hate
of chocolate.

   s i x .
i left a land i had always known
for heat and sun and humidity
because safe is good
but safer is better
or at least,
that’s what they told me.

   f i v e .
sugar in my hands.
if i close my eyes i can
feel the grainy texture
and wet lick
as the sugar cube disappears.
her glossy mane glistens.

  f o u r .
i ran to you then.
in my tiny hands,
with water dripping god knows where,
a tiny fish
and you screamed. 
and then you laughed.

  t h r e e .
i don’t know how much is real.
if it’s something i dreamt up or
if it’s an actual memory.
but i remember falling
and breaking my chin
and screaming as nurses held me down
and stitched me up again.

  t w o .
two kids. older than me.
playing with my dolls
and a box.
or are those separate memories?
time blurs.
after a while.

   o n e .
i was born
with a poet’s soul

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