At My Birthday Party

children in silhouette playing on the rocks
Teach us to count our days rightly – Psalm 90:12
It’s not the same as marking lines
on paper, not as satisfying,
but I grasp what my grandchildren offer,
a stylus tethered to a pink plastic board.
I tick off a decade — 10 verticals
when one grabs my wrist, asks
why not four lines, cut
with a diagonal, like in math?
So I scratch in tiny fences like on our old block,
split rails of green wood running sap.
We liked to dig in with our nails
until the fence posts grayed.
This is what 70 looks like, I say,
and this is you now, at 8.
Here is 5, your sister. And Pop-pop is 71.
But you know, he had a grandmother
who lived to 100, and I had one, too.
No one asks. They just stare,
fingers pulsing like seaweed
sifting waves, sifting words.
Just remember
how much I love you, I whisper,
every minute,
even when I’m not with you.
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