Birthday Present


Before the purge it clung like a devil on my shoulder.
It lapped at the nerves in my fingertips,
Like a tide that threatened to crash before the clench came.
It was the same, lacking self-control I had on that rooftop,
With words in one hand, desire in the other,
And bits of tapioca pearls lodged in my molars.
But everything was trembling anyway,
Because I wasn’t the type who would fail you.

I’d fall asleep knowing you’d be there in the morning
With music and feeling and caring
Even though duty beckons a man to finish what he started
I faced it unafraid and proud as ever, “Look at my best friend!”
But you were a boy then and I was a girl
Now I’m half-woman, and a greyer cigarette burn.
But cigarettes aren’t romantic –
It was all in the way I crafted a lie just to bake:
Two tries for practice,
Because I wasn’t the type who would fail you.

But I’m sure I did.

So I exhaled this poem in one breath:
It came out like a glob of phlegm that stuck to the edge of the sink,
Like the sharp peel of skin on the side of a finger nail.
I watched it bore a hole through the centre of my being,
Where God’s breath escaped and I spat you out from
The core where you once lived,
Where I cradled you in.
It was funny, seeing you go.

I was sure I sealed it well.

Still, I boarded the train trying to hold it all in
But blurred vision soon caught up and
All I could do was stare at the reflection:
I saw a pain twinkling,
Sad, sad sod of a girl
Choking on my own regretting –
But I had nothing to do with regretting
So I kept it in, I sealed it well,
Because I wasn’t the type who would fail you.

I remembered your fucking birthday.


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