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Birth Day
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Careful, my dear. Careful.

CAREFUL, I SAID. It’s for your own good. You know that I might be right, I can see it through your eyes. No matter where or who you are this night will be rounded in a frame, flash-gunned and shuttered in and changeless for once. And painless, that’d be a treat. My birth day gift to you.

Why do you always cry on your birth day? That’s not for you. It’s supposed to be the one day when you don’t have to give, only to be. I’d have thought that it would be the perfect day for you, but maybe that’s the point that sticks you still. For one day a year a looking-glass is held up just for you, with no blurs or distortions to distract. Is that why you cry? Is that why you are so hopeless at hiding?

When you were young there was always the chance that this year would be different, not enough had passed to dull the sharp edges of your delight. Yet unwrapping after unwrapping only delivers a shaken parade of the clumsy and the mean, but even then hardship or neglect – or the thought that maybe it was your fault – hovered like forgiveness in the wings. But that was a long time ago now; the child learns lessons hard taught.

Untied by string your fingers shake without anticipation for fear of what you are unfolding, of how others see you. The good gift writes relief not happiness into your face, the bad gift strips you bare. Is that why you cry? Is that why thank-you-cards are painted in sodden lipstick and mascara?  The paper is soaked and offered by hands that know what they hold; little reliquaries of recognition are never lightly given, smudged or torn.

The false memory of glee may hide in your eyes, cosseted and cheated as a favoured phantom-limb, but it is the wasting figure wrapped in ribbons that pricks you open and naked. Crowded by the illegitimate desires of those around you can never be on your own this day, a day without passion only sentiment. Is that why you could never lie?

So happy birth day, my dear. But be careful, everyone bought you mirrors this year.

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[JC/2001]

9 responses to “>

      • Well, I hope you treat us to more of your writing.
        I’n trying to slowly introduce more of mine to my blog but I must admit that I prefer my images to do the talking. However, I do like naming my images, and your titles always please me too.

        I hope your bithday was good, by the way, with no ‘difficult’ presents.

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