On Turning Twenty (a guest poem)

+ It’s always a pleasure to read young and inspiring poets. Through Twitter I discovered Rebecca, 20y (@MistakenMagic). She has a way of looking at and describing reality as an outsider, while at the same time being part of it. This tension often creates a beautiful imagery, sustained with striking metaphors. Today she published the following poem, and for me, it was if it “opened a window to the ceilings of my youth”. At one point we all “turn twenty”, and in my eyes, we always keep on turning twenty :-)

On Turning Twenty

“I feel old. But not very wise.” – Jenny Mellor

Facebook, the graveyard of past best friends.
I find that, at twenty, one has a twelve-week scan
as their profile picture. Tiny fists like little bunches
of static. The ballooning white arc of the head
chalked onto the crackling black.

A lad who once dated the baby’s mother
got married last month, has a kid of his own,
and is off to serve in Afghanistan.
My mother was married at twenty.

At thirteen, twenty was a scary age.
It was “proper grown-up an’ that”.
Now I’m not so sure what it means
to be grown-up. Or if I’m there yet.

So, I can cook risotto and know
what a garlic crusher looks like.
I have postage stamps and paracetemol
in my purse. I pay rent.
I bear the scars and scraped knees
from the first time I fell in love.

I wonder what my third decade holds;
maybe I’ll get a tattoo in Chinese or Sanskrit,
on my ankle or the bottom of my back.

Maybe I’ll indulge a few more clichés
and take a French lover who will teach me
that ‘oui’ can hold far more breath than ‘yes’.
We will smoke Gauloises cigarettes
in bed after we have made love,
a crystal ashtray lying in the valley
of white sheets between our knees…

I still haven’t seen America or Japan.
In daydreams I see the soft white and orange
water-colours of a Koi pond in Hiroshima,
and the black lines of buildings in Brooklyn.

I don’t know what the future holds,
but I’m sure I’ll spend my years
as most twenty-something women do,
trying not to turn into my mother,
and by doing so…become her.

You can find more of Rebecca’s poetry (Mistaken Magic) here.

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