Friday, June 3, 2011

8 years old once

for lack of beds, I slept next to him
I listened to him whisper to himself

happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday
dear Jalen
happy birthday to me

I thought about summer camps, swimming pools, and superheroes
I thought about him and how he waited all day for a party and me

to show up with the presents my sister had promised her son
to show up with a rite of passage in the form of an orange bicycle

that was last spring, and then winter came
when I hid his presents under my small sink

Jolly old Saint Nicholas, lean your ear this way, don't you tell
a single soul
what I'm going to say

the next day he cried at my kitchen table while I tried to explain
why he should wait and make his gingerbread house with his mother

the next month someone pawned a present I had bought him
and I explained to myself the difference between money and love

and I felt sick, and I felt noble at once
a Romeo holding an empty vile and Juliet

ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies, ashes
we all fall down

as April ended this year my nephew turned eight
and I spent the day planning an escape for everyone

I thought about how he laughed at his own jokes
and how I cried when I first heard about him

and I prayed, please let him be a good man
over and over and over and over again

1 comment:

Nawny said...

And this summer he will change us all into the people we were meant to be if not you at least me.

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