growing up

my biggest mistake while growing up
was thinking that life came in
packages of one.

i would learn that one lesson.
i would make that one mistake.
i would lose. i would win.
the necessities of the realistic life.
one day, just once,
in that magical moment, one day—
i would grow up.

these were check-marks in waiting
on the to-do list of life.
no one told me my pen did not
bleed onto a sheet—but a legal
pad, binding me to many lists
too many, that were checked off
too fast.

it was not until i reached the end
i noticed the speckled face of a
wrinkled cardboard rectangle
frowning back at me.

and my wrinkled, speckled hands
sought a single spare napkin,
a torn up envelope,
to jot down my check-marks
of my hundreth mistake
my thousandth success
my millionth time—
growing up.

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