Turning Thirty in Miami
Near Little Havana, we sat under black sky
and bougainvillea. It was December,
my birthday. It was red wine warm
in our palms, a burning in my belly
where a baby should be. It was bare feet
in the gravel garden, the dog next door
who slipped between the slats to sniff
our knees. In the morning, in the Everglades,
it was wild electric green, roaring rain
four miles out. It was watching miniature
frogs in puddles; counting gashes across
an alligator’s back; fighting the downpour
with arms closed, until we didn’t.
Until my hands released like a prayer
undone, cool water running over
like some kind of untamable hope.
by Emily Patterson
Editor’s Note: The images in this poem, though seemingly unconnected, fully describe the speaker’s life with just the right balance of yearning and joy and pain.