There’s the ones you get from cashiers,
acquaintance coworkers, the husbands
of your wife’s childhood friends—
they say it like tearing the last yellow page
from a pack of construction paper,
not your first choice, the ink runs,
you know whatever you do with it
it’s bound for forgetting’s garbage bin.
Then there are the ones with ‘man’
tacked onto the end, the old friends
reaching through telephone wires
to garland your shoulders with cigarette
breaths, and something about them
feels like ship horns sounded in the harbor,
the brightest pennies in a wishing fountain,
how your hands first landed on the small of a girl’s back.
There’s the ones at aunt and uncle funerals
plopped like spoonfuls of mac and cheese
on a paper plate, ones like a flock of geese
taking flight after you bump into your ex.
Your mother dies and people place
their black origami in your palm.
Your father dies and people drape them
like coats across your back. Once or twice
you find one whispered like an envelope
slipped under your door, except this one falls
from your bathroom mirror. You’re naked, soaking.
Haven’t you been practicing for this
your whole life? Say fine. Say great.
You have nowhere else to be.
Say how about you?