Birthday Bike and Black Magic

Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. – Forrest Gump

Birthday Bike and Black Magic

When I was nine years old
the Iraqi student who lodged in our house
bought me a red bike.
I can still see it in my mind’s eye,
though years have separated me from the event.
And I still remember him,
his dark skin, glorious black hair,
and deep brown eyes.
My father made him return the bike to the shop.
‘We can’t accept expensive gifts like that,’ he said.

I never had another bike.
Joseph came home that evening
with chocolates in a box
with a red tassel on it.
I shared the chocolates,
but kept the box for my collection
of silver papers and cut out dolls.
I’ve never forgotten my ninth birthday,
or the bike I owned for all of two hours,
or Joseph Bahir
whose gift I still remember to this day.

© Et


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