“I hope you found little joys to celebrate today,
and more than enough reason to smile.”
– A birthday text sent to me from Ayokunle Falomo,
Every smile has an origin story.
And mine begins with the unexpected gift
of knowing I’ll never be alone.
What a relief,
saying goodbye to the old emptiness,
forgetting what was lost,
holding what stayed,
abandoning grief like a rival
not fast enough to catch
the speed of my joy,
scattering across the April air
like a thousand little black birds.
This gift opens itself up every time
I look up at the sky of my life,
and count how many ways I am loved,
stunned at the simple song of being,
lost in a thousand shining suns.
Light trickles through the space
between my crooked teeth,
staining my bones like glass.
So I’m doing this new thing,
on days other than my birthday,
whenever I need a pick me up,
I open my mouth,
and I fill up the bedroom,
or the kitchen,
or the street,
with a thousand little joys,
with the names of every moment
I ever gave my smile to.