Esther Sadoff

For my mother's birthday my father gifts her pistachios and mangoes

She doesn't have time to ask for more and anyway her students bring
her so much: flowers, bread, cakes, even a mechanical eye massager
that plays soft music. I wonder if they know something I don't know.
I wonder how far I am from everything that I only see and feel imagined
needs not needs themselves. I've only ever wanted to fall behind,
to be the one picking up scraps, a forgotten shoe, or sock,
and I'm leaving my own self too. I want to think about the past
where people and things took up space, had gravity.
Not the weightless floating I feel now. Growing up we got
a tower of gifts and I wondered how Santa could carry so much
after his triple bypass surgery (something my father told me).
I don't think I cared as much about the gifts as their unwrapping,
the moment of revelation—shiny boxes, spinning wheels,
spongy toys that grew ten times their size in water.
I wanted to see things change, witness something leave its self behind.
Once I got a paper tree that grew its own leaves
and I saw it bloom from the page of a book (I swear it).
I checked it every day to watch it change as birthdays change,
not growing anymore but maybe shrinking.
I give my mother a bag of clementines clasped in a shiny red net
even though the only thing she ever wants is nothing (she insists).
That's what I want too, nothing, though I used to wish for something.