19th Birthday in Paris

Gabrielle Civil
The crown of it was fire: 
a stolen wish, this city
of bridges valving the heart,
ancient and scarred, tongues
of stone, this haughty sister,
matronly and jeweled, who
straightened her skirts,
looked me down in the eye.
Girl, are you sure 
you’re ready to rise?
Question mark of candles,
waiting for breath.
 
This vision, a pistil
of wavery bloom, a man
before me, the first refused:
a bite off our plates,
an outdoor café, the
privilege to witness
him, fierce and poor,
thrust forth his heart,
douse his body with oil,
purse his lips and blow out
tongues of flame. Utterance
of desire and gasoline,
a presage of future, some of it
mine. In the distance,
iron stippled with light. 

Related Poems

Cento Between the Ending and the End

Sometimes you don’t die

when you’re supposed to

& now I have a choice

repair a world or build

a new one inside my body

a white door opens

into a place queerly brimming

gold light so velvet-gold

it is like the world

hasn’t happened

when I call out

all my friends are there

everyone we love

is still alive gathered

at the lakeside

like constellations

my honeyed kin

honeyed light

beneath the sky

a garden blue stalks

white buds the moon’s

marble glow the fire

distant & flickering

the body whole bright-

winged brimming

with the hours

of the day beautiful

nameless planet. Oh

friends, my friends—

bloom how you must, wild

until we are free.