On Your Seventh Birthday

A Sestina

Born on the thirteenth of March,
you entered our world so fast and pure.
No epidural: there simply wasn’t enough time,
but for you, it was worth each searing pain.
Through gritted teeth I cursed and yelled
and brought forth another baby girl. You—Beautiful You.

It had always been the three of us before you.
Like Goldilocks, you marched
into our home to chatter and sing and yell.
You are sensitive heart and pure,
unadulterated joy. You are morning snuggles and growing pains.
You were six. Now you’ll be seven. Time

hasn’t slowed. If anything, time
is accelerated by you.
Years before your big sister, you learned the pain
of pierced ears. Marching
toward the next stage in life with lipstick on and pure
abandon. “Don’t rush,” I want to yell.

“Don’t grow up so fast.” But this yellowed
sun is already staining the sky pink. The time
of make-believe, this childhood purity
will come to an end for you.
Not this year, not this March,
but one day you will realize the subtle pain

of a closed door. A pain
that smells of nostalgia and feels like a phantom limb. As we yell
“Happy Birthday” this March
thirteenth, you’ll blow out the candles marking time
and we’ll celebrate you.
Abree Meli—hold on, for now, you are still pure,

and your innocence purifies
the air I breathe. It diminishes the pain
of an aged reflection, for when I look at you
I remember what it was like to yell,
to dance, to fly, to be present in each moment. Time
is ephemeral, but every memory with you slackens that march.

Abree, you are all that is true and good and pure.
As you march through life, may you wink at your pains
and continue to yell your presence to the world. Make a wish now. It’s time.

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