At forty-seven, I am beloved. I love myself. I drive through the whistling night streets. At forty-seven, I am beloved. I am beautiful. I give this to myself. I give and I give like fruit in the mouth. I give to myself that which no one gave me.
I am beautiful, I say to myself in moments. The moment I turn the car key and hear the engine, my familiar, ignite. The moment I slip my feet into place on the pedals. The moment I roll down the window and feel yesterday’s rain in the air, like a finger brushing up my cheek.
The world is determined to end. Humans are pick pockets, and soon there will be an end. Humans are filled with otherness. I am filled with myself. In the last two years, I have fallen in love with men who did not love me back. In so many years of my life, I have fallen in love with men. What girl in me thought they were a gift? Butter on my lips. I drive in the rain. I am the rain. I drive through the mist. I feel the mist lift. My cheeks lift.
I once wrote love poems for a man who was not my husband even those poems were a lie and the lines I wrote were originally for myself. Love lines for myself, but at the time, I could not conceive of how to finish that poem, so I thought they must be for someone else. How much I wanted to love and be loved before life was over.
Now, I listen to the radio. I sing all the wrong lyrics to myself and this makes me inordinately happy, Oh, hush, keep it down now, this is scary. I am the radio. I am the blush. I am the chords that will keep going. The world is going to end. We are the cello bow sliding toward the last note. We are like children on a slide, on our way down. We are on our way down. And I am on my way living this year.
Sometimes when I walk up the stairs of my own house, I touch my own ass just to feel the strength. My muscle. My beauty. I am forty-seven and I love myself. I am lush. I am a marching band on a hot summer’s day. I am a flower in a trumpet. I am a hummingbird at the bird feeder sucking it all up. I am the anthem the guitarist plays. I am the guitar and I am the guitarist and I am the speakers that explode and I am the stage. I am the couple making out in the shadows of the final row. I am the girl taking off her top. I am the breasts jiggling, their beautiful dense areola that want to be sucked. I am the bra and the breast and the eye of the camera.
Oh, gosh, how could I ever have said it was him. A him. Any him. I am rock steady and we will rock you. I am 95.1 and 107.9 and every jazz and college rock station from here to Appalachia. I am radio towers. I am alternating, direct, and continuous current. I am waves of electromagnetic radiation come to me and push me away positive and negative ions and electrons. I am filling my closet with red rubber tank tops for the netherlife, the ether, into which I will evaporate. I am pouring out of myself, ushering myself into the end of all lifetimes.
Years ago, a therapist saw me pressing my lips together and asked me to interpret what this meant, and I said, I am silencing myself, and she said, No, you are kissing yourself! And I wept, snot rushed down and gushed up my throat and I could not hear it at that time, no no without feeling shame, not because she was wrong but because she was right. Because the terror of the self kiss. I have been kissing myself under the boardwalk for years and not telling myself. I have been waiting up for myself. I thought I was the bassoon when I was actually the swing band. I thought I was a polka when actually, I am the damn polka! I am the damn lace skirt and I am the damn legs kicking. I thought I was a one-time pop hit. I thought I was a B-side when I am the greatest hits retrospective break the glass ceiling VH1 never-ending fucking special. I am driving, mist rising out of my mouth and up my lips. Neon lights, brazen for all eternity. I am the whole damn concert. I roll down the windows. I love you all. I love myself. It’s going to be a very good long night.