I planned to write a prose piece about turning thirty, but instead I'm posting a poem today. If you've read my blog for very long, you will know I don't post poems very often (I don't like to self-publish my work). I also don't typically share work that is this new, but sometimes it's good to get out of your comfort zone and share something that's fresh and still a work-in-progress.
This poem is partly inspired by Anne Sexton's "The Double Image." I've spent the last year reading a lot of Sexton and Plath (who killed herself at 30) and reflecting on the struggles they each had. It's also been part of the research I've been doing for my new poetry manuscript (which this poem is part of). Sexton was also born in November as were many other great poets. It seems like November is a big poetry birthday month (old and alive).
I hope you will enjoy this piece:
On Turning Thirty
“I am thirty this November.
You are still small, in your fourth year.
We stand watching the yellow leaves go queer,
Flapping in the winter rain,
Falling flat and washed.”
I, too, am thirty this November.
Thankfully, no little ones to apologize to,
or console, or make up for lost time.
I’ve made it through three decades
without procreating, which seems a feat
for most. Being two men together helps,
I guess. We are finally back north away
from the land of sand, palm trees, and too
much sunlight. I’d forgotten the smell
of crushed leaves. How refreshing the fall
air can be in lungs deep. I’d forgotten how
cold the toilet seat can get and the boards
beneath my feet as I leave you in bed asleep.
I’m thirty today and not feeling nearly
as dramatic as other poets predicted.
Perhaps I’ll grow wiser, happier, stronger.
I’ve spent my twenties falling in love
then falling apart. Coming to terms
with adulthood, disappointment,
my own mind. We’ve been side by side
for nearly a decade. We’ve moved from Indiana
to Florida to New York City where we wake
today in the chill of November air.
We aren’t boys anymore, but I’m not quite
sure if we are men, or if I will ever be one.
I’m leaving a decade behind. A decade
spent in sunshine where we had our fun,
but almost lost our way—blinded. Here,
we stand watching queer leaves go from
yellow to brown. The winter coming fast.
Your fingers icy on the white of my skin.
Too pale for beaches. My cropped red hair
in need of a hat. My body older.
My face still young. I’m turning.
Turning thirty this November day.