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Poems I wrote when I thought I’d never see you again

For Jeff

Michelle Orabona


Do you remember that time?

hours after breakfast when you were a white, middle class child stuck at the mall while your mother measured your little sister’s feet. And when she refused to buy you a Cinnabon you thought you were literally going to die of starvation, right there, on the scratchy grey carpet at Stride Rite? That is how it feels without you



I am happy I made you happy.

For a little while.

Happy for the bright

yellow birds

that nested in your chest,

growing large on love.

Happy for the eggs laid in

left ventricle, right ventricle,

right atrium, left atrium,

incubated in the warm flow of blood,

soothed by the steady beat

of a heart that knows it is safe

till two

became twelve

became twenty.

Happy for that moment when

I burned bright in your eyes

illuminating an unknown emptiness and filling it at the same time.

The birds flew south for winter but they remember where they were born.


There are songs I do not like but

I let them play because I know

the words and it feels good to sing.

Is that what



was like for you


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