Now You’re Twenty // Alvin Wong

Now you’re twenty

Your birthday was two decades ago

Maybe you’ll become unknown

Among the neighbours trying to recall

Your name, and drawing connections

To old photographs, that dash away in colour, past the point of fast forward

Sometimes you might drive past your old school in a used car

Despite chalky headlamps, it reminds you of an old sedan

Travelling through vignettes of trees, houses and cities

Before you finally settle for that image of “where you’re going”

Or maybe going to a fairground for bumper cars

Just a cheap laugh, driving cars sliding by poles and

Machinery in the mesh ceiling

You hear some others are twenty as well, holding on

To directionlessness, for the wind calls their name

And they claim, the air they breathe is leaving

And they must chase it down, and only then would the world be a precious marble

Its hatches and streams in its blue sphere

Like a globe they spun in geography class, they could go anywhere


The world was now something we avoided

All the calculating and the hanging of suits on spiritless shoulders

Now they begin to roost over us

In cities as sunlight begins to move fast, chasing past blue skyscrapers

And we realize how small we are, in this wide world of windows.

Looking at the clock ticking, of youthful seconds spent down the well for a good day

And we rampantly stomp out our cigarette lights from police officers,

Hoping, that we reserved our stomps,

To let it still burn under our heels

Now it is the time

for decisions, in suits or gowns. Elegant when still. Threatening to crease

from a body that could still be relieved by a force

a power that could move bricks, as your legs trudge cold water

feet and toes arc and contort over pebbles

Now you’re twenty, image of dreams and different countries

Frame your bedroom. That is all there will be.

And the palm trees dwindle down in messy bed hair

Thinking all we do is dream


Maybe it’ll feel like 30

Shaking your head at children

Running past, kicking their feet forward

‘it’s not my feet’ you sigh

As you plot and plan

When they’ll wail and squirm

Upon wearing a tie and dress-shirt

At work you started counting (because you can)

Minutes on the clock until work ends

Then turned to hours until home

Then days until the next big event

Like a birthday

By then you’re twenty-two

Have you been racing into the sunset

To see the dying lights

Bleeding of oranges, yellow and red

Before subduing itself to darkness

And find your headlamps fall on nothing

But the darkness talks back

In whispers, but they’re no secret up in the sky

Hundreds of them, finally landing

That starry night, and it stays, doesn’t it?

And we can finally stop running,

Our sneakers pant in scratched colours.

For most of us, wishing on the shooting stars

that blink and disappear, hoping it remembers our hopes and dreams

We actually stay, for the stars still burning



Alvin Wong is a writer from Richmond Hill who works for the Toronto based publisher, Inspiritus Press, He goes to York University for some reason but thinks it is to sponsor the saying too kawaii to die”.


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