Nostalgia is not for me,
not any more. What is the point of saying
“twenty-three again” each big day?
Unless you really are.
This birthday I shucked thirty-one years
as easily as pistachio shells,
ripped each wrapped layer off my body,
a surreal pass the parcel, no longer saving
and ironing, putting neat creases in my skin
folded in a drawer for special occasions.
I became capricious and wasteful, certain
I wouldn’t need that old ragged peel. I thought
about putting it on the compost, nipping
out in my birthday suit, down the garden.
Instead, I spliced and shredded, split each
membrane, took pinking shears to my self,
each layer bearing some sully,
the bruise on a knee, scab on an elbow,
graze of a shin. Each seemed imperfect,
my eager new fingers snipping away.
I marveled at the birthday wish finally come true,
ran a smooth palm over my once flat stomach again
and again, flexed ligaments with ease, discovered
muscles I never realized I’d lost. I ran up
the stairs taking two at a time, dragging the refuse
bag full of my remains of the day
and birthdays many years ago. I shattered thick
glasses upon the pavement, watching them splinter
from the attic conversion. I threw myself away,
watched as I was picked up by the breeze
like confetti, watching myself litter the town,
laughing in the wind.
I took a creased, black book from under the phone,
its cover lined and wrinkled, warped with age,
squashed thin by a dozen directories.
In fading, spidery handwriting, as dusty
as cobwebs, I found his number, my friend,
the figures as familiar as his features once were
under my touch, unchanged after all these years.
I dialed to find a wine bar now, the type
I used to frequent. My lithe form sat heavily,
wondering how I could be cheated even now.
It was only me who had changed, revoked the past
for a misspent youth I wanted to spend again.
I should have let my unused skin hang at the back
of the wardrobe, with the other garments you
know you’ll one day need. Just like age, or hideous
Hawaiian shirts that were once all the rage.
Now it’s nothing but dust, forgotten flesh I blew.
I wonder if I have just a year, another cake brought
for myself with token candles pushed through
its sickly surface, if a birthday wish on the stroke
of midnight will save my skin this time.
Then something hits me, less subtle than my own
mortality and I dial a trendy wine bar I never knew.
No, nostalgia’s not for me,
not any more.
Morgan Melhuish is an aspiring poet and full-time teacher who recently moved to the land of the Yorkshire Ripper! His work can be found in Outcast Magazine, The Impossible Archetype and he has a short story in Brenda and Effie: A Treasury, about the Bride of Frankenstein running a B&B in Whitby.