I don’t drink. I claim religion
as my motivation, but truthfully,
my license exposes secrets
my face denies to younger friends.
My lips vet each pop reference
for timeliness and timelessness.
“Would children half my age say this?” I ask
before a word slips out that makes them ask
how old I am beneath my foundation,
how many wrinkles I keep covered up,
how much hot pink is really gray beneath.

If they discovered my secret,
they’d drag me out the dorm, out the soirée,
and lock me up until I die
in an old folks’ home with withered peers
who waste their days and reminisce
on happy days I never lived.
I skipped the proms; I never held pompoms;
I sneaked out rallies, running away from home.
I got trapped in the World Wide Web
before the media declared it hip.
I went gaga over boy bands
before Disney made them platinum.
I wilted long before my world blossomed.
An aged crone without a home
now roaming dorms in search of friends
I should’ve had back then in school,
but back then, they weren’t even born.

When I graduate, I’ll be left alone–
single, spinster, dead cats as company–
so I pursue a doctorate
to justify my attendance
at raves and rallies, stags and football games.
“It’s for the books,” I say, “and a career”
I still cannot fabricate on the spot.
But I’ve mentioned too many bands
they’ve never heard, they’ve never seen.
My lie unravels. They see the real me.
My only option now: to embrace death.

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