magazines say so. You’ll learn what not
to mix tequila with, what shoes to pair
with that dress, what your default lipstick will be,
that will save you after every failed relationship,
each summer-at-the-beach fling. You will learn
the measure of patience and most important,
how to be alone. You will collect lonely like
some people collect stamps, and you will
learn to keep the light on for it, because lonely
needs company, too.
You will learn that self-love is not
dragging a random from the bar home to
sleep in your bed, but that it
is making your bed before you leave the
house for the night.
On these nights, you’ll stumble home—drunk,
in a dress that clings to you like a second skin
and shut the bathroom door behind you,
tired heels hanging from your hand
as you get down on your knees in front
of the toilet.
You’ll greet it like an old friend or a past lover,
wrap your arms around its porcelain neck and
whisper apologies after vomiting all of
your awful down its throat.
And then there will be boys, gloriously pale
boys whose veins you can count at the
wrists and jugular, boys buying you drinks,
handing you a cigarette despite your
refusals, leading you with your hands
twined down the street in a city
whose name tastes like smoke in your mouth.
Boys with coffee eyes
asking you if that seat is taken.
Boys who look like sin as they shrug themselves
out of their leather jackets.
Boys your mother warned you about.
Boys your father keeps a knife in the drawer for.
Boys who will break your heart, leave
you for dead on the side of the street and
you, not knowing what to do or say to
keep it from happening all over again.
Soak in these years like sunlight.
Re-position the needle over the vibrancy of your youth.
Get up from the lawn, brush the grass from your
kneecaps. Hail a taxi.
Find your way home."
— Kristina H., “Now That You’re 21”