You would have been 65 todayI attended your last birthday party.
I smelled the sulfuric remnant from the last candle you ever blew out.
The end was near, we all knew it; we all wanted it by then:
Your daughter, your then-husband, your friend who brought cake, me.
You didn't want the fuss, but somehow even with a goddamnedtube down your throat,
you accepted flowers and attention and a cake (what the fuck happened to that cake, a cake you would never eat)
That same poise erects your daughter's spine.
Bone and tissue made more by
Your spirit, a rod shooting upward from her pelvis to her third eye.
You have two born grandchildren,
Both wild and chubby and winsome.
You would be free from any man
Full of serpentine lies and any woman
low with pitiful betrayals.
But then again,
You already are.
What were your other birthday celebrations like?
I suspect you always disliked fuss.
But eyes sit on your shoulders as naturally as your freckles did.
You feel them, but they don't bother you.
Did you plan an epic 65th journey? Europe with Jessica? Hawaii with Joshua? The beach with your sisters?
I can smell the Chardonnay swirling in your glass.
Only last night I began to chop vegetables for dinner and heard you scolding me
To pour a glass first.
Somehow making an act intended for the nourishment of others
an act also intended to nourish me.
As if to say, I am here too! amidst all the hunger.
Am I saying it to me?
Or are you? Are you here?
I can see the mischievous secret in your sideways glances,
Always somehow knowing something no one else in the room knew.
I can see your half smile and mauve Estee Lauder lipstick.
I admire the elegant click clack of always manicured, rose-colored nails.
The skin that had begun to loosen around the knuckles and veins.
There's something I've been meaning to bring up with you, the next time
you came around.
There was a baton-passing we never discussed.
Sure, you always accepted me, but there was an initial distance.
A cautious, aloof detachment
while you sized up my intentions with your firstborn.
I'm not sure when we switched over
Or even if we really have.
(Is it me or is it you inside of me whose heart pumps cool water to quell her soul's inflammation)
(Is it me or is it you inside of me whose wings flap violently to conjure the wind so she can take off )
(Is it me or is it you inside of me whose hands are tied behind backs, watching her punch and be punched)
(Is it me or is it you inside of me whose knife caresses the skin of those who lied to us all)
I don't appreciate the helplessness, thank you very much.
I have enough of my own to deal with.
I don't need yours too.
Now that I think of it,
Where did all your feelings go? Like your ashes, were they also unceremoniously tossed into the ocean?
What happened to the time to enjoy it.
I'm still not over the cheat of it.
But this is about your birthday.
So we will gather, les femmes.
We will pour in your name,
Today, when you would have been 65.