One Hundred and Forty-Three

you always miss my birthday.

i like to think that when you wake up (on my birthday)
you notice. i like to think that you remember.

but you probably
sleep in til two
let my moments pass you by
like you do any other day.

this year,
i gave up my words
so i could give them to you.
it was a reverse birthday present,
because you needed a lifeline
and i needed peace.

so piece by piece i handed over all that i had.
i gave you good, strong words like
and then regurgitated, from the folds of my stomach
(where i hide all the important things),
word like poet and epeolatry,
and gave you those, too.

what i never bothered to tell you was that
in the words were hidden memories:

bells ringing the day i turned four, singing
songs of praise at the impossibly blue sky.

the last time we danced together,
too old and mismatched for grace.
(that day, i turned thirteen.)

we disentangled ourselves
and walked down the street,
stepping on all the cracks
to invite bad luck into our fortified souls.

or once, when i encompassed you with my knees,
my fingers on your collarbone. that was the day i
turned sixteen, an honorary birthday for all the ones you'd missed.

only on that day did you give me anything,
gave me words that i could hold onto.
even though they had one hundred and forty-three implications,
and you didn't bother to wrap them,
they were the best birthday present ever.


a/n: "143" stands for "I love you" in beeper language and the like.