by Tiffany Kang

To those who have stopped believing in first times, clear your mind.
If there are second chances, there will always be first times.

You are still the children of your mothers,
On bad days, you are your best friend’s anonymous hero. On good ones, you are your own.
You are descendants of explorers who once cupped moondust in their palms
and felt a pulse louder than their own.
You are ancestors of future prodigies who will save this world from what we are doing to it.
They will forgive us for our crimes and ask more of their own children.

You are who you were before you stopped wanting to be.
Before you settled for less than what you deserved
but told yourself it was the best you could get.
Remember the way you spoke your name when you were still proud of the person it labeled.
Remember your second grade birthday cake, and ask yourself why everything nowadays is tasteless.
Find the colors of your dreams before they greyed in the dustbowls of your eyes.
Find your first heart, the one you grew a couple sizes too good for,
and put it back on your sleeve where it’s meant to be.

Because you are beautiful, beauty yet to behold itself,
like the first ring of “middle c” in a deaf man’s ear after signing his last breath,
like the hallelujah chorus of a godless but holy nation
who doesn’t need a heaven to tell it right from wrong.
Perhaps forgiveness for our enemies grows inside bombs and crumbled buildings.
Perhaps every man’s secret is stored in the chest of a woman he loves,
because our secrets are the same.

So let us praise each other’s deepest shames,
Let the sunlight slap your scars in the face and remind them
that nothing on your body is undeserving of warmth.
Your body is a miracle waiting to change someone’s life.
You have the backbone of Demeter,
the heel of Achilles that doesn’t cover itself with armour,
but lets vulnerability breathe properly.
You have the eyes of God herself
and the palms of an Empire who knows its future because it knows its history.

So get excited for Monday mornings.
Spin proudly, across broad street in red heels and a rippling yellow dress.
Rush hour will forget why it was ever in a hurry.
The 65 year old man on the corner will ask you where you’ve been all his life.
and you will say – “I’ve been busy asking myself what I’m doing with my life.”
Your life is a handpicked continuation of someone else’s that didn’t make it this far.

So take a moment, feel the patch of skin behind your ear,
inside your forearm, between your first and second toe —
Yes, there are tender places where we have all been spared of callouses
from walking too far, too late at night with people who wanted too much from us.

We are young in all the same parts —
untouchable, infinite,
our palms are still pink as the sidewalk chalk we used to spell our names backwards with
And there were once days we didn’t mind so much the backwards —
when you still believed that if you cut a doll’s hair, it would grow back
that if you ate too many sunflower seeds, they would blossom in your belly.

That was before everyone started asking each other
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Who says we ever stop growing?
And why must we be something besides what we are now?

I’ve come to the conclusion that my best days are reincarnations of my childhood.
When I decided I wanted to be a teacher, waitress, professional sumo wrestler
and President of the United States between the beginning and end of recess.
When I was forgetful enough never to run out of first times.
And there are second chances everywhere, so there will always be first times.


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