Fall 2011, Volume 11

Poetry by Jessica Patapoff

 On Turning Thirty

I go to a friend’s thirtieth birthday party. She recently lost a baby,
so the entire night is spent avoiding the topic of pregnancy,
or children under the age of thirty. We’ve known each other twenty-two years. 
We like to tell that to people because it gives weight to our otherwise
dead friendship. It’s strange when terrible things happen to people
from childhood:  it makes children out to be liars.  Pretending
everything would be all right—never saw that coming, now did we?
And then there was someone else’s rehab stints. I get cornered
at the party by my now–sober friend.  She wants to make amends.
She’s sorry for things that happened years ago, before either of us
could legally drink. I stare through my glass, swish the cubes of ice
and as they clank against the sides, tell her it’s fine, all good, no problem,
ask the waitress for another, and she holds my shoulders with her hands
and keeps mending us. I try clinging to new friends, ones I’ve known
only for a few years.  There is something safe in not having long histories.
There will be no pretending and certainly no scurrying to stitch
the pieces back together. I scan the crowd, a large sea of before,
and I see their familiar faces looking at me, saying don’t let me be lonely,
as if there was another option. 




BIO: Jessica Patapoff is a recent graduate of CSULB's MFA program in poetry. During her MFA degree, she was awarded a teaching apprenticeship position for a beginning creative writing class at CSULB. She absolutely loved teaching poetry and hopes to continue teaching creative writing in a college setting after graduation. She currently works in international sales and lives in Long Beach, CA. Besides poetry, she loves to travel, everything about Italian culture, wine, vegetarian food, beach cruises on bikes, angry birds, words with friends and the nuances of other languages. In May 2010, she had five poems published in an anthology of Southern California poets entitled Pop Art (Moontide Press publishing).