The New Year


All the doctors at the party are talking about their specialties.
All the doctors are well-dressed and humorous.
The doctor in a cow print dress & white leather boots
baked an olive oil blood-orange cake. She's so hot.

We're on a roof watching a man
across the wide gulf light something on fire with a torch.
He's waving it around like Nero.
"I sort of know," cow-print says, and her eyes are rimmed in black.
"I want it where you're reaching in—and the blood gushes out."

IKEA plates line the ledge, edges blur each metal rung
where lights burn distance, clattering.
Cake sticks to orange like skin.
The doctor specializing in ears eats with his hands.
"It's making a comeback," somebody's boyfriend says.
He's the only other non-doctor.
He's talking about Minneapolis.

In the corner, a gastro-entero-something vapes beneath her mask.
Isn't it strange how outside the bounds of instant tragedy,
small interactions loom much larger than the news?
A picture is taken of the sky. Light pollution, haha, it could be daytime,
it is daytime, it's the New Year, it's 3am, except in California, haha,
I'm so jealous,  all the time, haha,  drinking.

Inside a bathroom poster says: "I'm broke, but happy."
I use someone's floss. Outside, I stand around thinking how
I never wanted to be a doctor, never pictured myself wielding a silver stethoscope,
flouncing hallways in a white and flowing robe.
In the center of the circle, cowgirl is talking about her last and final date.
“He’s in orthopedics,” she says.
“You didn’t,” we say.
"I did."

Celeste Pepitone-Nahas received her MFA in nonfiction at Washington University in St. Louis in 2021. Her words have appeared in Ancillary Review of Books, Beyond Words Magazine, and the new music journal Časopis o Jiné Hudbě. She lives in Czechia.