We used to tell each other erotic stories
at slumber parties when I was about ten:
We’d meet and kiss dark, handsome boys,
and then sink into sixty-year dreams
from which we’d wake up for church weddings
and to name our butterscotch babies.
From there we always jumped ahead
to the pooping-out party, and died laughing
into our silencing pillows at the way
we ‘d overdose on laxatives, and be dead.
We never dreamed of the face-making
self-reconstruction from scratch
we’d be engaged in for most of our lives,
of at thirty-four an ordinary day
on which an aspiration is adjusted down
another notch like a dress let out twice
at the waist, then finally given away,
of the rambling Victorian responsibilities we’d own, full of furniture that doesn’t match and appliances that always need kicking.
We carefully flushed away the traces
of the filched cigarettes we’d tried
before our two o’clock forays in the dark,
then we raced back on tiptoe to devour
unsweetened chocolate, olives, laundry starch,
and in our floppy pajamas, giggled for hours.
When we made out each others’ drawn faces
by the first pale murmurs of light
we were stupefied
to see how old we could grow overnight…
Reprinted from Mama’s Promise: poems by Marilyn Nelson Waniek.