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BIRTHDAY POEM 2005
1.
We were born mute
pale buds of flesh
 
We needed to rise from Earth’s possession
to grab the air’s girders
 
We had to remember certain truths, such as
“the hands do”
 
We heard of those who tried to fly
and shattered against the sky’s ceiling
 
We remained seated
 
Slowly learned to speak
singly and then in numbers
 
 
2.
We were left to wander between continents
to disturb the open space with our shifting feet
 
We packed what was permitted:
the body, locked inside its skin
 
the heart sought to hang from the heights
and observe our journey from a distance
 
Language rolled through the streets
and we could not take
 
the heavy everyday baggage
buffeted in the belly of a jet
 
in the single book that remained whole,
words were replaced with pictures
 
3.
We were lonely
 
We dressed in our deeds and went out
to the street embalmed
 
Constrained by the concerns of the everyday
we signed here and here and there
 
Likewise, practical tasks:
hanging stars, buying cups
 
we raced in loneliness as if on a road
that ends in applause, water dividing
 
From words we built a house, a door,
a double bed, a gas oven
 
4.
The gods were willing to love us
this time
 
The sun powdered our skin with its sparkles
the rain did what rain does: prevailed
 
We waited for the trains to pass by.
Every day a train passed
 
We stood essential to time
if not for our aging bodies, it would have disappeared
 
We hid ourselves in large cities
their structures blocking our nakedness
 
Evening fell
as we ate from a single dish.
 
5.
We kicked back the time,
“Go away,” we muttered
 
It remained, we went to sleep
woke up as different people
 
and people died all the time
shot in the head in the legs
 
with raised hands we seized
the day’s canvas so it wouldn’t descend
 
Or: natural causes
but this was rare
 
We feared dying but living
also frightened us