for Danielle on her 31st
I read or dreamt somewhere
that friendship is an honor
set upon you—that deep part
of life you experience expansively,
a moral extension that creates
the value of living well.
Perhaps I made it up,
like a song that has been
stuck in memory, a trust
imagination endowed for you,
like those many years I know
because I’ve spent them
on this story we’ve shared
authorship of—so many sorrows
dark as the night between some stars
where artistry dares to craft
melodious and lyrical bars—
better versions of ourselves,
and so vividly I never failed to reject
the very essence of their truth.
We’re less brazen now, more dangerous.
Sometimes I wonder how to tell
the vivid stories of how my heart
has learned to love you—
because I do—although, even when
I didn’t know, I always knew.
It was only the words I didn’t have
that said friendship is more true
than the books I read about science
and psychology, the sensory cortex
and biology, all the reflexes
of simple topography—the many gaps
of memory and meaning, the syntax
of community, what your companionship
and your body has taught me
about how to live better just because
there are times worth trusting
in the constancy of drawing up movements
so rich they could only be
choreographed by you.
Today’s your birthday—it is a little all.
And we would have a care to dance
and smile for you a while longer.
It is an honor, my friend, to have
a few words to spend on your memory
because this is the writing of it
while it lives here with me, with us.
This little dance of rhetoric is
little more than a pedantic wit
in demonstration of how important
your living craft invests in all of us.
While I am just a humble poet,
your craftiness has saved me more
than a few times; although, these words
are but a token of that truth.
Happy birthday, Oracle.
All of these stars, all this light,
not the darkness between these points—
the magic of seeing them:
these are candles lit for you.
Today we light your torches.
Tonight we burn the clocks.
You owe us and them nothing, though you
spend it all on this city and your friends,
and so tonight we send you off with this—
every breath performs its peace for you.
We will never, now, have you to lose.