The Days with Dates I Don’t Remember

by Payton Weiner, Haddonfield Memorial High School


It preludes to death, so I don’t celebrate birthdays

The inevitability of becoming a whisper into the wind

Turns the hairs that outline my spine into bullets

A number of years spent together

Does not quantify love like the way Dad photographs Mom rather than the sunset behind him

So I don’t scribble anniversaries on my calendar

And holidays pass

Like how the days of summer blend into one

As if I were to spend $3.99 for a greeting card instead of two packs of gum

The days with dates I don’t remember

I celebrate the most

Those which change my breath into a Shakespearean sonnet

My step into a fifth grader’s haiku

Brushing hands with the boy next door

His touch

Cartwheeling across my fingertips like a girl showing off during recess

When a bee tickled my shoulder

And Mom claimed that it had mistaken me for a flower

Finding a 20 dollar bill next to a sewer grate

Andrew Jackson skipped home with me that day in the back pocket of my high-rise jeans

Eating a meal without burying pieces under my napkin

Like bodies stripped from their souls

Or hearing the bread whisper “79” because that’s how many calories it contained

When a number had the ability to flood my deserts and drain my oceans

The first time I believed it when someone called me beautiful

Not choking up a “no I’m not”

or “please don’t lie to me”

Singing that song with my hands high-fiving the clouds

The one with the lyrics that were once stained by mascara in my pillow

When “love” was not painted with a positive connotation


Riding my bike

Next to the branches beckoning me to dance

That day the sun finally woke up from its two week nap

The stranger complimenting my hair

Because she liked the way it waved to her in the breeze

Allowing brown hair to feel like more than the result of a profusion of melanin

Writing my name in the sand

With a fragment of a Sabal palmetto

The ocean crashing around it

Displaying for me that something so temporary had the ability to last two more minutes

And then there was the day I learned about writing

That it could give me the power to

Turn heartbreak into a stanza

A nanosecond into a novel

And tell you all the truth without being honest

So believe me when I say

Days prepared to be insignificant hold the most important celebrations

All of those times when I woke up as a pile of dirt

And fell asleep as a garden


Bernadette M. Stridick Prize winner of the 2019 Walt Whitman Poetry Contest