An Excuse for a Late Birthday Greeting Disguised as a Poem

by Abner Dormiendo

The thing I hate the most about distance
is that you need to count it. I am not bad at math,
but I grew to dislike it the bigger numbers get
or the more complicated the equations become.
It doesn’t mean I would not try. I thumb California
on a map, my pinky resting where Manila is,
my fingers a scale of how much I miss you.
At least this time, I don’t have to use numbers.
But then I think of time zones, of bodies
getting out of bed and retiring to them
like a never-ending global wave, the sun
flipping the page of humanity’s story
one day at a time, and I don’t know who to curse
for this, for being ahead or left behind by eons,
and why in order to know what you are doing
today, I have to mentally unwind the hands
of the clock, pull it back x number of hours
until I know that here, while it is your birthday,
you are sleeping there, missing home
wherever it is for you. All I want is to greet you
a belated happy birthday, but this is an excuse
disguised as a poem. My dear friend, I wish you
happiness, and I wish that wherever you go,
when you see another person wiping a window
or walking his dog in the park, I hope you wish them
happiness as well, and I wish that everyone
in every part of this world with their hearts
swelling from this incalculable, mysterious force,
would look up to different skies and wish
for the same kind of happiness, the true kind,
infinite and deep as the ocean between our fingers.


For Elle, because her birthday moves across time zones, and it happened here before it did in California.