On Turning 21
after Billy Collins’ “On Turning Ten”

So, I have had all those childhood
diseases by now, you know,
senioritis, freshman fifteen, apathy
and romance and breakup fever,
a kind of midlife crisis for the first
two decades, a dabbling in drama,
a hunger for hangovers.

I heard you say, “You’re finally an adult,”
but you did not back it up
with what that means exactly,
After all, eleven was not that exciting,
and sixteen, that first foray into
freedom was not all that
fantastic—that first kiss,
the drivers license, the permission
to stay out past ten, rather blasé.
,
But now, I stand facing
the mirror and see a stranger,
someone I have seen
out of the corner of my eye
but have never questioned.
I am still Superman, or better yet,
Batman with Morgan Freeman
guiding me like God, my batmobile
parked firmly in my mind.

This, not ten, is the beginning of sadness.
Friends have actually died—
you know, that thing death, that we
read about in books but did not truly
believe existed. It must mean
we will die soon, too.
Fifty is so close now.

I am no longer afraid of bleeding,
but broken hearts scare the
daylight out of me.

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