Birthday Present: A Poem


Birthday Present

by Minerva Siegel




My birthday's tomorrow,

glittering and confetti'd,

boxed and bow'd.




I've always felt my impending suicide

as a black balloon tied to my wrist-

or maybe around my neck-

bobbing about, even in happy times,

reminding me

that I'll end it soon,

that I'm in control,

that I have an escape plan.


25 was my number.

I knew I'd do it before then.

I knew I'd never make it

to 25.

It seems like such a solid number,

such a warm chunk of life,


a quarter of a century,

tidy and clean,



As my birthday approaches,

the balloon loosens its grip

and drifts off

and I am left



Frightened as a rabbit

about to be lunch..


Without my suicide hanging over me,

comforting me,

always an option, always an out,

the future seems so vast,

and I am made

irrevocably vulnerable.


What happens next? Where will I go, what will I do?

Who will I meet, what will I learn?

How much longer do I get

on this mad spinning planet

this hurling hunk of rotten meat

of garbage

of earnest chaos & terror?


I want to reach out and explore

this brave new slate of life before me,

blank and sterile as the hospital beds I'd woken up on,

Lazarus tucked neatly 

into crisp white linens,


but ever knowing that I wouldn't- 





But, I'm here.

I'm here with wide stinging eyes 

blinded by promise and fervor

and an apprehension all new. 

Who am I, if not suicidal? 

Am I a survivor

or a fool?


I'm a warrior with glitter in my belly and stars in my eyes

I'm picking the thorns out of my flesh one by one,

they pool at my feet.

Marrow's been sucked from dead bones now

and I'm a smiling woman

left with daggers for a tongue

and a dying pearl of self-absolution

in my cold, rotten, beautiful, beating heart.

I'm done martyring. 


I'll live.

For me, not you.

& not out of guilt

or spite or some self-aggrandizing

inflated sense of obligation to the planet.

Starting now, at 25,

I'm in it for me.


The silver chalice of eternal life

the holy grail

the fountain of youth

Do I dare? 


I've stumbled and ambled

on through this life for 25 years

My nose in old books,

my starlit head an ocean of alternating narcissistic glory

and complete despair,

my charred heart caged tightly in my chest,

chugging along with its muddled beating,

waiting for its day to die.


The gore

and horror of my past


and it's time to move on

as a brave new woman 

with lilac lips and a golden heart.

If I thought less, I could've loved myself more,

& sooner.


The poor monster within me lifts its ugly head,

a golden Minotaur

brilliant and gleaming now with iron horns

with which to stab and prod and dismantle you.

He checks the time-

It's nearly our birthday now.

The minutes close in like a gap shutting tightly,

the room is airless and heavy with

the promise of a crisp new dawn.

No black balloon in sight.

Could it be

that I've made it

to 25?