Seventh Birthday – Domenic J. Scopa

Illustration – Saanya Chopra


What I remember is a worker falling

toward driveway asphalt,

muscular like my father,

paint can hurling from his grip

that loosened as the ladder lost

its footing on uneven earth.


What I remember

is the smooth arc cerulean made

and the way its spill formed

an almost-question mark

as if to mock the importance of celebration




Someday I’ll return to the place

depicted by my memory, overgrown

with carpetweed and hedges,

and abandoned,

and through the chipped cerulean

I’ll find the little closet

with my rumpled clothes,

and sit down, drinking nothing but

the musky air by the window,

and wait for him to finish

dressing, one pant leg, then the other,

and wait

until the atmosphere of the room

takes back the oxygen in the dawn,

and wait,

until each wrinkled crease

in the sweaters and khakis

is as smooth as childhood,

and wait¾

At a certain time, that closet,

that room, that house,

will turn completely into sunlight.




I’ll pull my pants down

and listen for the faint zipper

on blue jeans, and…

the chance of maybe not this time

is already gone¾

fickle, oblivious, a hummingbird

launching off its branch

for another tree¾

my hand hurrying to strip the T-shirt,

to get there,

that moment of undoing.




The roar of the worker’s howl,

and the complete uncertainty of cerulean,

as it curves and shimmers in the light,

and the inexplicable candor

which my babysitter

made his presence known,

then wiped his body with a rag¾

are one¾

the birthday, the nowhere, the nothing¾

the perfectly baked cake

and the spilt paint’s sprawl.


Domenic Scopa is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. His poetry and translations have been featured in Poetry Quarterly, Reed Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, and many others.