measurement problem


on the tenuous relationships between adult children and their parents.

in this cavern of arched windows and linoleum,
you seem so small. we don’t have much time.
you’re saying, text me when you get back,
and they’re calling my train to board. I wrap
my arms around you and my mouth
fills with everything I want to say—

I didn’t like the gift you gave me for my birthday.
not to be ungrateful— but you bought it for someone else
and while I wouldn’t have had an answer if you’d asked
what I wanted, you didn’t ask, and I’m sorry

that there’s a stranger waiting for you on the platform
every time I come home but please understand,
I can only grow when you’re not looking—
you are the half the reason I am hollow as I am

so I can’t tell you that neither of us know my name
anymore— but it’s not the one you gave to me— because
I am afraid of you, even here, even now, even on pages
you’ll never read, so how can I say it? but—

I’m not the only one who changes, in these long blinks 
between visits. every time I come back, you look older.
we don’t have much time; I still want 
to be your child, I love you, I love you—

— but you are already leaving. I stare mute
at your retreating back, my luggage heavy
with your gift. they call for my train again.
I turn away.