The Vicenarian or My Twenties So Far

Poetry by Laura E. Davis

My therapist says, “Tell me about your twenties.” At twenty I’m born
again. Bush vote. My heart turns purple and my insides become composted

totems of faces I’d forgotten. Grandfather starts dialysis. Get homesick
in St. Lucia while eating fresh mangoes. Buy my first vibrator. Men fly

planes into buildings while women inject collagen into their lips. My hair
is short and blonde. My uncle gets Parkinson’s disease. Sleep with five people.

Turn twenty-one. Do a shot called a Red-Headed Slut. Lock my keys in the car
five times. Diagnosed with ADHD. Bush says, “Mission Accomplished”

while standing on a boat. Have sex with a woman. And with seven men.
My heart is an onion, a flaky and potent organ of flavor. Taste-tongued.

Get my first cell phone. At twenty-two I have a threesome. Reality television.
My heart thumbs it to Kansas City without me, leaving a see-through escape

route between my sternum and spinal cord. I stop praying. Forget that I love
camping. My friend Jes punches a guy in the face outside of a bar. He spits

his blood on my shirt. I tell my brother I’m queer. Mom starts getting manicures.
Turn twenty-three and have an affair with a Marine. Takes me to Washington

where he cries at the Vietnam Memorial. Date a Buddhist who drives a Honda
Civic Hybrid. Finish college and buy lots of hemp products. Get engaged.

My gynecologist tells me I have HPV. I think about dying. Get married.
Twenty-four. Heart becomes one million avocado pits skewered on BBQ sticks,

suspended in jars, the roots leaping away from the water. Get an intrauterine
device. Vote for Kerry. Get a job selling home refinances. Stop eating meat.

Gain ten pounds and decide to have an open marriage. Get a boyfriend.
And a girlfriend. I start taking Welbutrin again and find my first gray hair

which makes me smile. My grandfather has a kidney transplant. I turn
twenty-five. Hurricane Katrina. I lose my job and start temping. Ian Frazer

develops a vaccine for cervical cancer. Then twenty-six. Tell my mom
I’m getting a divorce. I get my first apartment. Buy my seventh vibrator.

Heart develops a sense of smell, scoops up grubs in the topsoil, and seeks
quick fixes of musty armpits and the undersides of garbage can lids. Decide

I’m an atheist. I pose in a pinup calendar for charity. Twenty-seven. I am
alone for the first time in six years. Heart learns how to flap prophetic,

predict the weather and spot criminals behind brick buildings. Organize
information into death or almost-death and I have my first panic attack.

I do not wear Crocs. My uncle dies. Fall in love with an Italian. Obama vote.
Twenty-eight. Michael Jackson dies. My heart is a shoe that fits both your feet,

toes curling inside like a newborn with enough space for sighing. Get my first
teaching job. H1N1 vaccine. Grandpa dies in his sleep. I dream about him

whistling. I remember I love camping. Stand inside a family of Redwood
trees and kiss the Italian. At twenty-nine listen to Ginsberg sing Father Death

I’m coming home. I learn that we are always gray with fragments of color,
not the reverse. My heart resting on the kitchen table is a machine gun.

lauraedavisLaura E. Davis is from Pittsburgh, the City of Champions. She is currently an MFA candidate at Chatham University. Her poems appear in Redactions, Pear Noir!, dotdotdash, OVS Magazine, and Radioactive Moat. Laura currently teaches gifted education and is the editor of Weave Magazine.

6 comments for “The Vicenarian or My Twenties So Far

  1. Dave Doyle
    February 23, 2011 at 7:01 am

    If I wasn’t feeling lazy I’d write a love letter to this poem. Thank you, Laura.

  2. Donna Vorreyer
    February 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Laura, this is stunning. Thanks so much for writing this poem.

  3. March 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

    The whole poem is gorgeous, and the last line makes it triumphant.

  4. Michelle Wallace
    March 5, 2011 at 7:25 am

    I appreciate so much the risks you took in this poem to share yourself!

  5. May 1, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you everyone. Your comments mean a lot.

    -Laura E.

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