January 17th, 2021
Deep in the forest in a flannel nightdress,
a little girl lingers without much on
her chest, shame in her heart, much to confess.
Here she is safe, completely at rest. Gone
the behemoths of yesteryear. Her cheek
on chenille, her brain bereft of all fear
inside this night sans starlight except a meek
constellation of which faithfully appears
from a bedside nightlight replacing a moon
which made her weep more nights than swoon. Tonight
she looks no father than this light of her room
which is not a metaphor — means to write.
No beseeching big teeth inside these woods —
it ends with her pen like make believe should.
I have a tradition every year of writing myself a poem on my birthday — a thing about myself that I need to hear. One year recently I wrote the sonnet Nymphette because I felt old and losing my womanchildishness — or really more afraid I would lose it. I wrote myself a bawdy anthem to my sexuality because i needed that very much.
This year I continued this tradition, and I wrote the poem above, tonight and I’m posting it in just a few minutes when it becomes my birthday. This year has been weird. I lost my cat on New Year’s Eve. The nation was attacked by Americans. We are in a global pandemic. I lost an opportunity to finally read in public and evolve because of this pandemic. My house was flooded. I’m still dealing with the damage of that. I have lost so much control of so many areas of my life.
But I have gained a lot of control over myself. I went on medication. I worked on my mental health. Stopped looking to a lot of external things for validation that I have always done.
Sometimes we have to lose almost everything to realize what we actually have, and that has been the case for me. I feel the most peace in my heart in my entire life and the most self love and self care. I watched a movie last night called Promising Young Woman, and it reminded me so much of the girl I was for a long time — very angry and feeling ruined by what had happened to me in my life. In the movie, the main character who seeks revenge for a rape isn’t the victim herself but a friend. I feel like I carried so much anger about my own abuse history that it really controlled me for a long time — and I replayed a lot of these events over and over, almost seeking them out for strange reasons.
This year what I’m proud of myself for is that I’m not doing that. It’s my birthday and I’m not seeking punishment from anyone because it’s what I’m used to and need. I’m not looking for anything outside of what I create and the dialogue that inspires.
I’m a girl who lives in the woods, but I don’t seek the big teeth I know that are out there anymore. I play in that world in writing, and that is it. I think that’s a thing to be proud of — my own demons I have stayed with a pen. Happy birthday to me.