Twentieth Year, Hundredth Trial
Bonheur sounds like a kiss in any language,
and I’ve been saying tristesse over and over
for a year to get it right. Sadness.
It’s still rough in my tongue, still stuck in my throat.
Vivre spells fireworks on nervous hands.
Essoufflement, the cold tips of my fingers.
This morning, I tried to cram two years of my life story
In a five minute speech, apologizing as an introduction
while I opened a document of cut-and-paste past journal entries.
Sorry, this is kind of impromptu. My life has been touch-and-go.
As my knees betrayed my two inch heels
And as I stuttered and avoided eye contact, I said,
“Two thousand fourteen started with ugly, uncontrollable crying,
But I started to fall in love with the world again"
That part wasn’t in my notes.
The expression of age J’ai vingt ans
literally translates to I have twenty years.
Ten moving images in each palm:
A four-year-old frowning through a door,
Twelve, with gold-rimmed glasses and retainers,
Sixteen, barefoot and a pixie cut,
Eighteen on a pavement with a half-empty beer.
Nineteen, laughing on a rooftop ‘til a guard comes along.
I have twenty years. Here is all of me.
I am an anatomy diagram; 20th edition:
Skin; Large pores. Ghosts of pimples. Eyebags ad infinitum.
Stomach; lemon water, avocados, avoiding beauty magazines.
Ears; the billowing, bamboo-in-the-wind hum of
Sssssssshhhh It’s Going To Be Okay.
Hands; still empty. Heart; still full.
Central Nervous System; a list of percussion instruments
I assigned a deadline to my disorientation,
to my feeling lost, convincing myself
there is a higher order to my personal chaos.
Let’s compromise—we can still include depression in this five-year-plan.
Just slip it right there. There’s still time, we can make it.
...I’m 20. Jesus, I am weary and burdened.
This collective and public depression
Has been normalized as an initiation to adulthood.
Hormonal, dark lipsticked girls chain-smoke silently,
The way ancient warriors gathered around a fire.
This was me. How long will this be me?
Inside this body,
I am a city beleaguered, ransacked,
With every emergency exit turning out
To be a cul-de-sac. And yet,
I sit for a moment,
offering wipes to another like me
I link my fingers with theirs.
Like electric wires in a ghost city flaring
We try another time to light ourselves up.
Ariel Pinzon recently finished her BA in Art History and is based in Manila.