Reflections after Attending a Birthday Party

— Karisma Price

All the men I love carry         a sweetness:             a reluctance,         a voice laced

with honey,         anything                 society deems     ordinary             on         a woman.

My father             was a soft violence             taken                     by a softer violence

the size of a golf ball.     The night remembers a     blooming fist,     the way he held     the bottle

like an oyster     holds an intruder against its fleshiest parts.     We remember the way he battered

fish     as the kitchen sweat,     which is to say         we’ve constructed         a better version

of         the truth.         Last week,         in the backyard,         I listened

to the wrinkled man                     interrupting         the woman         trapped in the speakerbox

as he sang         Happy Birthday     to     the woman in the yellow dress.                 The seasoned

brain matter     of crawfish     plops             on the faded newspaper     in my     lap as someone

lights     the cake’s candles.         The music,         which I don’t remember         now,     is soaked

with a story     about a girl in love     with a         false version     of the truth.             We watch

the woman     surround         her cake and I’m reminded     that everyone         I     love is dying.

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