Published on: 2/26/2010
"I have a history of bad birthdays,"
you say, you're trying to sound witty
or sophisticated. Just like, you imagine,
the characters from the novels
he reads alone. He doesn't love you,
you know that. But it's your birthday
and "Don't I look pretty," you think.
You want to force him to talk, to share
something. You think about digging
your well-manicured nails into his
patchy, amber beard and manipulating
his lips like a marionette. But you don't.
You never even open your hands,
you keep them clenched tightly by your side
and maybe your mother was right,
that this silence is better than emptiness
because you can feel it, hold it
in your mouth and spit it like water from
a stone fountain in an Italian plaza
that he has never taken you to. You
excuse yourself, and in the bathroom
you bare your teeth at your reflection.
"Happy birthday to you," and you notice
a smear of red against a tooth, your tongue
wiggles like a worm, working away the
waxy taste of the lipstick. In the living room
he's moved to the couch. He's reading and smoking
even though you've asked him not to.