Poem – Nikki-Lee Birdsey

Birthday Song

The date is sharp-edged, I pussyfoot
around the real issue, as usual, wasting
time on the fat maggots in the Jazz Apple’s core

in the trash, how did that happen?
How the name Dmitry falls out of symmetry,
the word star out of stare.

I stare at them. They remind me
of chopping onions and I start to doubt
the eventual sun. Ring refracts out of thing,

moan out of moon, or fool, or koan,
the Susquehanna out of the word Susannah,
my mother’s name. The mouth of that river

is Havre de Grace, where I stood once
in a mood much like this, staring at
the Lantern Queen, a white-clad steamboat

churning in place, on the water,
that sound seemed to whisper
‘Harbour Grace, Harbour Grace’ and

I practised the correct way to say
Maryland, not Mary-Land, I can understand
how the old mariners

fell in love with
the difficult sea.
What refracts in me?

My nerve’s net frayed,
what I fail to follow with my eyes
I find in Ralph Lauren perfume

in David Jones Department Store that
reminds me of high school and
the sickly-sweet deep pink bottles we drank.

They effected nightlong poppy colours
in the once-quivering, now suddenly
quiet thickets.

You touch a petal, it sways
and bruises. I measure your death
by my birthdays.

 

Nikki-Lee Birdsey

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