The Night Before Your 28th Birthday - Christine Kitano

You no longer dream your dead father alive in your childhood home. You’re an adult now, at least five studio apartments removed from that archetypal v-roofed house, curlicues of smoke rising from the rectangle chimney. So instead, the house you now live in sprouts a flight of stairs down which your father descends, holding a lit birthday cake. At least, you believe it is him, though the skeptic in you nudges your ribs: has he really come this long way just to sit with you on the porch the night before your 28th birthday and watch mosquitoes circle the dying streetlamp? Its light flickers on and off, then on again. Of course he is tired, so he holds his hands, palms upturned, on his knees. He is wearing khakis. His breath is effortless, his stroke-broken eye still the color of milk, but almost starry now. Can he see? You ask, but he says it is better to forget what is no longer relevant. And that’s exactly how he says it: no longer relevant. Though he’s only an arm’s length away, his voice is a distant wax-paper voice. “Blow out the damn candles,” he says, “I don’t have all night.” Around you, the neighborhood flattens to an empty field. Though you know this is a dream, you make the wish. For one breathless moment, you believe.





Christine Kitano is the author of Birds of Paradise (Lynx House Press, 2011). She teaches literature and creative writing at Texas Tech University. Recent poems are forthcoming in Tar River PoetryCrab Orchard Review, and Miramar. Find her online at