Saturday, July 4, 2015


On your 24th birthday
I move through the house, kissing
your head in every photo,
from toothless babe to troubled man.
No springy hair grazes my lips,
only cool glass. That
is all I have.

I venture into your closet,
grab a zip-locked pack of T-shirts
sealed with your scent. I open it fast
and breathe you in, still thick
with thrift-store musk, smoke and sweat.
I ration these releases
to last the rest of my life;
each time I fear the trace of you
will vanish. That
is all I have.

Later we go to the beach
where you used to surf, where we used to scan
the waves for your lean, concave form,
poised astride the board. But
you paddled out too far, dropped
over the horizon. Now
we see only other people’s sons,
their brave bodies braced against
the ocean’s pull. That
is all we have.

Driving home under mottled clouds,
we spot a rare smudge of rainbow—
your gift,
an afterthought.*

How to spend the birthday of our lost ones? Nothing feels right. It's a day like any other--feed the dog, do the wash--with hours we dread to fill. We can't spend the whole day in remembrance. We've tried to go places Noah loved or would have loved and do something that reminds us of him--but I didn't feel connected to his spirit at last year's restaurant or this year's beach, with others or alone. I still can't help comparing these outings to eating or traveling with him, and feeling envious of families that can do those simple things. It will never be a happy day for us. But maybe I am looking in the wrong places. The sky, gold-infused, stunned me on the way home. Maybe on future birthdays, we should think about gifts: the ones Noah had, the ones we gave him and he gave us, the ones we would have exchanged.

 *Note: All poetry on this blog is original unless attributed to others. All rights reserved.

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