On Turning Fifteen

You sit there alone
on your bedroom floor
gluing the tiny body parts to your
plastic soldier models.
You have always liked to do that.

You look up at me with your disfigured smile,
while your eyes chill me to my bones.
Yet there is something about them
that seems to be ready to shatter if I blew on them.
At five you were my Mushroom-man,
running down the long hallways of your house
with that white pillow over your head
while we tried to catch you in our arms.
At ten you were the sea captain,
at thirteen a lover boy,
with the names in the hearts you drew
changing as the seasons do.

But now you are in front of your cake
surrounded by the familiar chorus of the famous tune.
You are ready to blow out the candles,
but first you make a wish.
As the flickering glow paints strips of yellow onto
your trembling eyelids, your lips seem to stumble
upon invisible words.

It’s your big day,
but you feel so small.
Across from you are your mother and father,
sitting side by side, just for today.
You try so hard to hold that moment.
Afraid to let that go,
you forget to hold onto
something else.

As it rides down the side of your cheek
you slip away into the dark hallway,
stand there alone,
in front of the sink,
in front of the running water,
trying to wash away
your fifteenth birthday.


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