Birthday Poem

Jade Hurter


            after Sylvia Plath

A decade shrivels into a torn piece of skin,
a pulled tooth lost in medical waste.
          I have swallowed it all
nearly driven off the road many times
because from the car window I saw a bird.
Summer tanager, cedar waxwing, kite.
A friend calls a blue heron a crane.
          I am tired of knowing names,
of the buzzing din that fills each silence.
The air I breathe is vacant as a diamond.
For years now I have lived with myself,
trying to give away the pieces.
          I grow older and more beautiful,
body parts turning from flesh to stone.
Some vesper bats live to be forty
and here I am, not nearly bat-dead,
picking at my reflection, getting retinol
in my eye—tear, reapply.
          I have lost vast expanses of time,
of love, of crying into hands and mouths
that exist, now, elsewhere, unnecessary as clocks.
When I am dead I will have forgotten most of this.
The only constant, an empty backdrop.