Instead of a birthday poem

IMG_2660Just as from “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk,”
They made the many laws of kashrut,
But the kid is forgotten, the milk is forgotten, and the mother is forgotten,
So from “I love you”
We made our whole life together
But I didn’t forget you
As you were then.

– Yehuda Amichai, from A Great Tranquility (1983)

They had this thing where she’d hold up a finger
if she’d heard him tell the story before.
I saw her do it once at their fifty-fifth anniversary party
& the friends who remained howled for minutes.
But she’s gone, the finger is gone, most of the friends are gone too.

He’s here.

I drove to him through the rain-lapped streets of south Florida in storm,
my ears obeying the disembodied left right left of my phone,
my hands fiddling with the unfamiliar controls of a rental’s radio & wipers,
my mind tolerant of these stimulations but otherwise muted.

It wasn’t until I saw him, lying wordlessly in
some gauze-white room, that I thought of the finger, of
how she’d raised it that night, pointed it
prolongedly, collecting the laughs, the punch line not just of the evening,
but of every punch line that preceded it until this one, until it was no more.

& brought her hand down.

1 thought on “Instead of a birthday poem

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