Adulthood did not come as I expected it to.
It was not there when I was 12
and found a lake of blood spilling from my body.
When I ran to my mother,
wailing, I don’t want this, I don’t want this,
and she told me not to have sex.
With my mouth a skipping CD,
there was no one to remind her
that I still covered my eyes
when people kissed in movies.
There was no remark on how
unsexy anyone feels
when their insides are escaping them,
let alone the fact that a 12-year-old
rarely remembers she has a body
until it may be dying on her.
Adulthood was absent from my birthdays
—not even showing up for a few hours
and rushing home at the clock-strike,
which I could’ve forgiven.
I turned 16, 17, 18,
waiting on the edge of my bed
to feel my cells evolve,
time bombs triggered,
maybe turning me into a creature
that could call herself “woman” without cringing.
I was stood up,
left pushing my thick glasses up my nose
in order to check the time.
I curled up in bed,
still in my pajamas,
crossing my eyes in exhaustion and repeating,
Next year, next year.
Adulthood did not come with my first job
or my second or third,
nor when I wiped the pizza sauce off my glasses
and got the internship that was sort of in my field.
It didn’t even shake my hand
and give me its business card
when I stopped counting on my fingers
and relied on my résumé to keep score,
fluttering its two pages at people already on the next rung.
Adulthood must be the work of a trickster god.
What else would create a monument
and then unveil it as nonchalantly
as a flash in the peripherals
and a whispered thuk on a desk?
Adulthood’s ride to the party was an envelope,
blinding in the light of the computer screens—
shepherded by a boundless turtleneck
revealing itself to a 19-year-old
who carpools to work with her dad,
proclaiming in bold black letters:
insurance application packet.