8/21/16 I wanted to give you

I wanted to give you
something beautiful
for your birthday, but all
I have are these words.

I wanted to give you
something beautiful
for your birthday, but all
I can think of is how

I see myself walking on a beach,
the ocean lulling me with its breath,
churning the air into something sweet
for my lungs to drink.

I bend down and my hands
wash over shells, each with
its own shape – some jagged,
others smooth – and each with
its own shade of daylight –
coral, iridescent pink,
creamy yellow, stone black,
marbled blues and silvers.

The cup of this one holds
my love for you –
how it fills the space,
a welcome home.
And turning it in my hand,
I feel the hard back,
my fear of loss, my need
for safety, my desire for knowing
that this is a sure, steady thing.

The firmness trying to protect
the fluid interior on which
everything depends,
that space that so easily
piggybacks onto other shells,
onto your shell.

It is so easy to think of
these innumerable curves of shell
as separate, yet all the while,
they nestle into one another,
rubbing away the rough edges,
reshaping each other,
finding a smoothness
and a way of fitting together
that can only come from
touching, connecting, loving –
in the way that shells and spaces love.

You see, I wanted to give you
something beautiful
for your birthday.
I don’t even have a shell.

I wanted to give you
something beautiful
for your birthday.

And all I can give
to this you
is this me.


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