Poets group meets tonight. One of the poets, Jo, has a birthday today. Same as my late husband. He would have been 70 today. I buy a cake for her. I could have baked one, something really good, Julia Child, with Calvados and apples, a clafoutis. Real. But instead I want a birthday cake that looks like one. Sometimes you need that symbol. I buy one with the pinkest pink roses and an almost neon Happy Birthday. Inside: strawberry cream. Go all the way. We may sing. It’s gray, so gray outside. Let’s light the candles, too.
I love Jo’s poems. “Loss,” is one of my favorites. Perfect for me today. Thank you, Jo.
I have lost a bird, I have lost a tree.
I have lost a city. And a state.
I have lost money. I have lost land
with a blue heron and a green pond.
I have lost flat fields and mountains.
Lost a river. A sea.
I’ve lost a father, old friends.
A child. A husband.
Now, I must lose the memory of you.
I nearly have it. Your crisp edges slip.
It’s almost done. There. No, not quite.
from THE MEASURE
My birthday present for 58 years was my mother telling me the story of my birth, the morning I was born. She’d start: “It as a hot June morning. Close. Not exactly raining, a fine mist…. At 7:42 the nurse said, ‘Mrs. Pearce,’ you have a beautiful baby girl.” We would both cry a little on our ends of the phone. At least, I did. Or her voice would break a little as she said, “And you were. You are….”
My husband was adopted. There was no story for him. There was no where. No who. No known face that saw him first. I want to research the weather on that day, the phase of the moon, anything to know him more.
My wedding present from his adoptive mother was this poem. She kept it framed above her desk. When she gave me this poem she gave me her son.
I AM THANKFUL
To my death from my birth,
I am thankful I am on Earth.
I am glad I am not an orphan
That I have a real home
and toys galore.
I am thankful for things
that are mild
For everything tame or wild.
I am thankful for this modern age
And for life of humans at any stage.
I am glad I go to school
Because if I didn’t I’d be a dumb fool.
Happy birthday, baby.