bricks in the wall

it was fifth grade
when i told a friend
a downstairs neighbor
in my apartment complex
that sometimes, sometimes
i wished that i was a boy

the next day, during recess
a friend of hers, a girl
who didn’t like me
told me that she knew
she stared into my eyes
and with a smirk, said
she knew my secret

i blanked my face
returned her stare
told her i didn’t know
what she was talking about
and walked away

and when the first girl tried
to apologize later on, i
told her i didn’t know
what she was talking about
and walked away

birthdays

you were weeks early
for our first birthday party
almost 8.5 years ago

the one i crashed by telling
the nurses that we were family
(we are, just not by blood)

the one where i cradled you
one-armed, because i could
(even though i was nervous)

the one where i had to have
promised to be a good auntie
(i’ll keep it even if i didn’t)

so it’s okay that we’re a little
late celebrating mine this year
it all evens out in the end

maturity

over the decades the topics
of concern, during our increasingly
rare get-togethers have evolved
from high school electives
to college applications
to relationship and career choices
to planning for and raising children
to caring for aging parents and in-laws

and we reluctantly accept that
there may have been a small
amount of growth along the way

and then she sends me photos
from yesterday’s climbing lesson

and i notice her chalky handprint
at the center of my back
in every single shot

and i heartily accept
that some things
will never change