I often forget how difficult it is to be a young person. My daughter is 15, and she's struggling with all the things that teenage-hood brings. Sometimes she's funny and relaxed around me. Other times, I'm a supreme embarrassment, and she walks at least 25 feet ahead of me. Things like blemishes and cold sores can be catastrophic. Like I said, it's difficult being a young person.
That's what today's poem from Aimee Nez is about: the trials of growing up.
Thank goodness Saint Marty grew up.
Twelve Twelve Twelve
by: Aimee Nezhukumatathil
a.) When I was twelve, I lived
on the grounds of a mental asylum.
b). My Filipino mother was a psychiatrist,
so that meant we lived
in the doctor’s quarters—
one of the three big brick houses
that edged the institute.
c). My younger sister and I practiced Herkies—
our favorite cheerleading jumps—
off the patients’ bleachers near the softball field.
d). When I was twelve, I aced
with celery and food coloring;
they let me skip a whole grade
and get right to The Dissections.
e). I secretly wished my supply
of grape Bubble Yum would never run out
but I couldn’t figure out how to blow bubbles
and snap the lavender gum like Sara could.
f). We sold gift wrap and crystals
for a junior high fund-raiser and my mom still asks
Where are all the crystals I bought?
Why don’t you display them in your house?
g). When I was twelve, I worried about
the darkening hair on my legs.
My mother bought me my first training bra—
no cup, just little triangle pieces stitched together—
and then a slice of New York-style cheesecake
to bring home.
i). When I was twelve, our house
always smelled of fried lumpia
j). We had zinnias
as wide as my outstretched hand
nodding at us in our garden.
k). My school had to create
a whole new bus stop
just for my sister and me,
and everyone stopped talking and stared
when we stepped onto the bus each morning,
smelling of grape gum and ginger roots.