On the eve of Phoenix’ 23rd birthday, we sing, all the / furniture pushed up against the balloon-adorned walls of / their living room, the New York kind, compact, quaint a / broker might say when he is trying to sell this fantasy.
He left the door unlocked, in case I arrived before he got back from teaching. I thought I’d timed the drive from Durham to ensure an appearance well after school let out, but he didn’t answer when I knocked and it was quiet and dim in the apartment.
All she wanted was to look like all the other brown girls. They were everywhere, versions of the girl she’d prayed to look like in high school. Girls whose bodies and faces she craved. Girls she wished she could be. Girls her mom hated that she resembled.
So much goes on without it baffles
every time I begin. I read, I go walking.
I take long routes past the elementary school,
the fidgety, nebulous line at the crosswalk
and the swingsets quaking and singing.
I had not yet labeled myself but felt the pull of men irresistible. I was drawn to a boy and examined every tether but the core one, that I wanted him to feel the same for me and I knew he didn’t. I spent the entirety of that year mourning our potential. I was prepared for Elegy Month.