My mother’s birthday

She is five years from one hundred

And a puzzle that she is still alive

But the women in her family take a long time to die.

My cousin said that once with a smile and his sympathy.

She held me when I was an infant

When I could not be fed but with her hands

And could not pass shit that she would not clean up

And now she is like a child who cannot learn

Because life is inexplicable.

Its stories and its laughter and what it relates

Make no sense. They are not of her world

And her world is gone though she’s still here.

I can’t wish her a long life because she’s had a long life.

I can only hope for her death that will rest her pain and tedium.

I missed her birthday lunch because I had to work.

That’s what I told her when I called later that night

As I wondered how many more times I will call

How many more times I will call and hear her faltering voice.

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