On the Day When No One Was Born

by Adam Clay

The clouds roll through the
phrase happy birthday to you,
happy birthday to you, but it’s not
my birthday or a day for birth
really. Where will regret go at the
end of the story? It is only a piece
of the puzzle we’ll call your life.
Always we find new ways to be
troubled, but there might be a
rough circling back to the self
reflected in the eye of the other
self you lost. This state is strange
and this state of being is stranger,
but eventually it will be your
birthday and what will you say to
the singing, to the cake dropped
from a helicopter? Nothing’s
random. Even an ending is
always a salmon swimming off.

Adam Clay is the author of To Make Room for the Sea (Milkweed Editions, 2020), The Wash (Parlor Press, 2006), A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World (Milkweed Editions, 2012), and Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016). His poems have appeared in PloughsharesBoston ReviewIowa ReviewTin Housejubilat, and elsewhere. He is editor of Mississippi Review, a coeditor of Typo Magazine, and serves as a book review editor for KenyonReview. He teaches at the University of Southern Mississippi.

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