Seven days of poems—before eighteen

February 15, 2022

 

Exactly one week before my eighteenth birthday, I decided to write a poem every night for seven days, something to help tether me to the moment—as it often feels I am relentlessly and fruitlessly trying to do. Some nights, I hated the words I was spitting onto the page; others, I was proud of them, but frustrated that I was feeling the things I was writing about at all. But the product ended up being irrelevant. Through my little collection of Notes app poetry—far too often about love, far too often about frustration—I found my stanzas washing away the dust and the dirt, softening my jagged edges, giving purpose to the words that haunt me, the emotions that strangle me. And after seven days, I know I can’t stop now—know that these poems have become just as vital as the meds I take every night, the coffee that pulls me from sleep every morning. I don’t know if they’re much to look at, but they’re here for you if you’d like them—the final stretch of my journey to eighteen.

February 8 – today on that couch

Lorelei+sitting+on+the+couch+in+question+under+that+knit+blanket

Natalie Mix

Lorelei sitting on the couch in question under that knit blanket

Today on that couch

I felt warm

the kind of warm that has me carrying a blanket between classes,

finds me with at least three blankets on my bed at all times,

never being far from my knit cardigan and a pair of long socks.

 

Today on that couch

I was warmed by the vivid knit patchwork

of the blanket tucked into the cold spaces around me,

warmed by the nearly empty bowl of soup on the table

steadily cooling next to the still-full chai,

warmed by the cat curled up on my chest,

the children’s movie playing on the tv screen above the fireplace.

 

Today on that couch

I felt nearly just as warm as I do with arms around me,

my head on someone’s chest,

I felt warm

I felt full 

I felt e n o u g h.

 

Today on that couch

I thought about home,

about saying “I love you,”

about not wanting to move because everything is as it should be for a moment.

 

Today on that couch

I cried,

but in a way that let go of today,

frustrations that ran off my skin with the suds in the shower later,

and today on that couch,

Lorelei gave me advice—

advice that I laughed off—

something about a plateau and the wilderness,

the whole world,

beyond,

but I’m writing about it now.

 

Eighteen is just a number

Nothing changes except that I’ll buy a lottery ticket next Tuesday.

But it’s one step closer to the edge of the plateau,

to parachuting down,

seemingly alone,

to abandoning safety and familiarity.

 

But I’m not alone,

and Lorelei’s right: there’s a whole world beyond the edge of this plateau

February 9 – wash, rinse, repeat

The+Yellow+Wallpaper+art+project+from+AP+Lit+with+my+continuous+line+faces

Natalie Mix

“The Yellow Wallpaper” art project from AP Lit with my continuous line faces

there’s only so much you can do to drown out certain noises

 

headphones in,

but i can still hear the 

thwack

thwack

thwack

of the ping pong ball against the wall

 

turn up the music

but the sound seems to get louder.

the sound isn’t the problem

 

the problem is that nothing,

not the ceaseless banging,

not the music coming through only one headphone,

not the memory of laughter,

can fill up//drown out the

roaring black hole

that’s opened in the space between my ribs

 

it’s only beginning

and with sleep,

and enough melatonin,

it will probably

go away

maybe 

consume itself

instead of me

 

yet i’m giving it a voice with my words

 

even if it fades,

if a shower and the freshly washed blankets from my bed

drown it, smother it

it will forever be memorialized

one of seven days

 

i guess i should admit

i’m scared that it won’t go away

or that it will

and just come back

scared that my whole life is just a cycle

up 

down

around

and back again

waiting for the sunrise all night,

but dreading the sunset at noon

 

high is too high,

can’t breathe at that altitude,

low is too low,

shattering on the rocks and the waves wash the pieces away,

and this is

just

e m p t y

 

hate my reflection all day,

crave what is a breath and a mile away,

anticipate that the piles on my floor will grow again,

take my notes in my new pens,

shower with soap that i bought in the midst of a panic attack,

rinse a handful of pills down with lemon water,

wait to feel

better

or wait to feel worse

February 10 – don’t forget

The+photo+I+took+after+coming+home+from+Hamilton

Natalie Mix

The photo I took after coming home from Hamilton

today was

r/u/s/h/e/d,

don’t forget:

to get a signature on that line,

remove a comma, change that word, hit publish,

time enough to grab a can of iced tea with the bottle of vitamin D supplements,

in the pick-up line at 3:43,

thrifted shoes that will only make my ankle sore,

pair the right blazer with the right pants with the right necklaces,

makeup in twenty minutes,

out the door with barely time for a picture,

rat-a-tat-tat-tat of my heartbeat,

set a reminder with my brightness all the way down and make a list in my notes app

 

don’t forget:

to breathe

because tomorrow will be just the same,

might as well be today,

with the to-do list that will stretch past midnight,

and i’ll miss it all,

caught up in the dots rather than the spaces between

 

so don’t forget: 

to take a picture in the mirror before you run out the door,

close your eyes in the shower and feel every bead of water dripping down your skin,

write a poem, and stop to let the words come to you,

listen to a love song in the car,

make a corny valentine during class time,

turn your phone on just to smile at the lock screen or the most recent text,

throw your clothes in the laundry basket

 

don’t forget:

that occupying every moment within your radius is exhausting,

you were only meant for right now

February 11 – keep me here

In+the+elevator+on+the+way+up+to+City+Highs+winter+dance

Natalie Mix

In the elevator on the way up to City High’s winter dance

i started a poem

started spilling my anxieties onto the page

but i’m so so sick

sick of overthinking 

of never being content

so we’re not doing that tonight

 

tonight was all bright flashing colors

music that cut through me

a beat that i didn’t quite feel i could keep up with

and it’s only honesty to say that i was anxious

 

but when we danced together,

when they locked eyes with me

and i could hear the lyrics they shouted beneath their mask,

when they’d wrap me tight in their arms,

when they held my hand the whole way home

with my feet in their lap,

none of it really mattered

 

it’s just love

love that is overwhelming,

but a better overwhelming than anything else

 

i don’t know how to hold onto this,

how to make my brain understand that nothing ever really matters but this very moment

but i’m trying so hard,

as the days count down to eighteen,

i’m trying to be h e r e

 

and right now,

i think i’m here,

with my leg pressed against theirs,

on this couch,

seven minutes to midnight,

as here as i can be

February 12 – the Gatsby effect

Sofia+and+Allie+in+D%26W+while+we+bought+soup

Natalie Mix

Sofia and Allie in D&W while we bought soup

if i could capture today in a bottle

forever preserve this cottony soft feeling,

stitched together,

nothing missing,

no holes poked through me

 

but here i am staring at the problem in all of its glowing green glory,

an envy for something that belong to the past,

that word: if,

a deadly syllable

coloring every moment the green of longing, of jealousy, of disappointment

 

today was golden sanctity,

preciously unplanned,

irreproducible

 

i felt something frighteningly familiar as my love songs serenaded me home this morning

but i sent out a prayer

to something that eludes me,

and someone answered

 

i colored valentines

and carried conversations

and we watched The Great Gatsby

and drove home in the dark, speakers crackling at a volume loud enough to leave no room for anything else

 

i was happy

i am happy

 

i’ve spent February

swept up in anticipation,

the idea of something that could never compare to the reality of it—

it’s a lonely feeling

 

but the green light at the end of the dock,

the very words that i’ve copied down time and time again,

never really understanding what it all meant;

it meant this—

that you can’t find purpose in longing,

can’t find purpose in something you don’t have

 

and i feel a

little

less

alone,

knowing the greats felt like this too,

that someone cared enough to document the emptiness that fills the space of longing,

longing itself replacing what it was

 

so i’ll send out another prayer tomorrow,

find something to believe in,

let myself be one with the rhythm of rolling fields

under honey golden sunlight,

and maybe peace,

with her feathery edges and dancing iridescence,

will fill the space that longing left behind

 

maybe the words aren’t for you to read

but for me to write

February 13 – the rhythm of little things

Lorelei+on+a+Facetime+call+on+her+break+at+work+Sunday+morning

Natalie Mix

Lorelei on a Facetime call on her break at work Sunday morning

there’s a tub of speckled pink cookie dough cooling in my fridge,

paper bags full of baked goods from Meijer waiting on my kitchen counter,

a blue dinosaur stuffed animal, a Dollar Tree greeting card, and some Cadbury eggs piled up on my estate sale couch

 

today was indefinable in a way,

best described by all the little things,

by the click-clack of my keyboard as i type and backspace to the beat of my own indecision

 

the valentines I made out of paint chips from Walmart,

the total on the pizza order we placed, memorialized by the receipt taped to the fridge,

the old lady who told me i was cute at work this morning,

discussing the future and our new dress code,

not wanting to leave after i’d clocked out,

Egyptian Licorice tea in my new mug,

folding laundry and washing dishes and ringing customers up—rhythms to fall blessedly into

 

i felt today, for the first time in a while

that i fit the space i was meant to,

tethered to something critical at the center of the earth

 

i’d like to think it’s my words tethering me;

these poems themselves have been a rhythm to fall into,

and i don’t think i want to see them go,

i think i’ll hold onto them a while longer;

they’ve taught me something,

taught me that my words unfold and untangle the knots that the day ties with every word I didn’t speak

 

so here’s the rhythm, 

the beat,

the music i’ve set my life to:

a handful of pills and a poem at night,

a blueberry bagel and an iced coffee in the morning,

silent prayers and texts to friends in the in between,

and lately, the girl in the mirror has surprised me,

flourishing because she’s actually found a watering can;

she’ll be eighteen soon—

i’ll be eighteen soon

February 14 – eighteen, no pressue

A+photo+from+The+Central+Trends+Valentines+Day+bake+sale

Natalie Mix

A photo from The Central Trend’s Valentine’s Day bake sale

it feels like there’s a lot of pressure

to make this one,

this last poem,

something special

 

the same way i felt like there was pressure all day

to make today something special,

these last few hours before eighteen

 

but in reality,

eighteen is just another number

 

maybe i won’t be able to sing “Dancing Queen” with the same conviction

but otherwise, i’m still the same girl who’s been writing these poems all week,

trying to figure out things about herself,

realizing that she is happy with her life,

all the ups and downs it entails

 

i was all over the place today,

felt a bit like i was mourning something,

the loss of something sweet and seventeen,

and my therapy sessions left me wide open,

scribbles and musings spilling out of me into nothingness

 

but then i went home with the ghost of chapstick on my lips,

spent the evening realizing the golden threads that time has sewn between us,

that pieces of us click into place, aren’t so full of questions i’m too scared to ask,

rather laced with understanding that unravels itself in my bloodstream

 

i’d like to go back to that girl three years,

who met someone thrilling and convinced herself of a lie,

that girl two years ago,

who cluelessly lived a distinctly parallel experience,

that girl nine months ago,

who stumbled over her words and didn’t say what she knew was true

but confessed it later, and let something magical happen to her—

i’d like to show her the way we laughed today,

the things she calls home now

 

i don’t think it will be so bad,

to step out of childhood,

leave some things behind, but gain even more

 

and as i watched the snow slowly glitter into view on the asphalt as i drove home,

there was little to mourn

 

i’m eighteen now,

and the world is still spinning,

will keep spinning

 

i’m eighteen now,

and i’m okay

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    EllaMar 1, 2022 at 11:58 am

    NOT MY TOES BEING OUT IN THE FIRST PICTURE???

    Reply