two weeks ago i threw a stone
at the water and watched it skip three times, thinking
it will never do to grow old and content.
somewhere beneath this river
there is a castle built from stones i’ve thrown,
and all of the fish are kings and queens.
they’ve never been asked about their royal decrees.
no one has ever wished them a happy birthday.
they reign over the kingdom of life and death, and even the river
refuses to stop and mourn them when they go.
one week ago i found a moss-covered stump,
and instead of crying, i counted its rings.
if you were to cut me crosswise, i don’t know
what you’d find. perhaps severed arteries
pouring out gold and poetry,
ancient cave paintings splashed across my vertebrae,
or the secret to immunity brewing
in the cauldron of my hips.
maybe you wouldn’t find anything.
i cannot grow rings, after all,
and i am no queen.
today, to celebrate my birthday,
i will head down to the river with a saw
slung over my shoulder and
chop down a tree.
i cannot help but think that one day you will
stumble across its stump and count its rings,
and you will ask the fish about what it’s like to die
without a name.
you will find a perfect skipping stone, but
instead of throwing it, you will put it in your pocket
because you know about the fish.
you know about the trees.
you know that we grow older against our will,
and even stones that skip still have to sink.