Dear Dassi,

Happy, happy Birthday, my friend. I am on a bus back to one life and away from another. The man I love is behind me; we are long-distance. Sometimes the thing we love is away from us, like a little heaven we imagine. Or it can be something so close as the body we are born into, a tall tale we tell. Your body like a town with too many teenagers, often an eruption to be soothed, bullets you’ve dodged.

You were born the same day as the woman who birthed me, you are my second training in being a daughter. Like I did to my mother, life peels you apart like a star, light going in all directions, glint of your eye. You show me the wicked constellation of cancer in your right palm. We buy a dress together online—losing and upon re-finding it, you burst: “Thank G-d!”

Every day there may be some small war down the street or in your heart or fingertip, or a car that crashes and kills a few blocks north. There is always a light you leave on, Dassi, a lighthouse left on during the war. You become cat-like when listening—oh, that must be a flight path. I watch an airplane fly across the expanse of your eye. Of how many devastations have you eaten the ash?

You celebrate the dare of your body in flowers and butterflies, the springtime version of the man next to me on the bus, asleep with head back, mouth open, devouring the gift of the freak accident of his life.



STELLA PADNOS is a poet, social worker, mama, and Scorpio. Her poetry appears in various literary journals, anthologies, and forums, including Women’s Studies Quarterly, Mommikin, and Lady Parts; a Barbie-themed online collaboration. Stella works as a therapist in New York City. Her debut collection of poetry, In My Absence, was released in summer 2016 from Winter Goose Publishing. She enjoys writing about ambivalence, attractions, and general emotional discomfort.