The Birthday Boy; Salvaged Lines; An Anniversary; The Suicide’s House
The Birthday Boy
The soft air, by this inverted calendar,
is still December, a day in early summer.
We’re turning toward the longest day of the year.
Elsewhere the streets are narrowed by the snow,
while here the sky is blue as a fairy wren.
I have no role in this, but I can thank
the fates for giving me this day, this life.
To have lived a while. To be looking out
from the green of our hill home to the sea
on this blue day. A book and a cup of tea
and no great hurry to get to any chore.
Even to say so calls up Atropos
cutting that thread of self—the birthday boy.
I’m held here by the stories I could tell
to nothing but the air, the trees and water.
Einai ola tyche, the Greeks would say,
and luck, all luck, is in the letting go.
I’m not the one who knows why I’m alive,
or why my body’s not in pain just now,
or why the woman working at her desk
chooses each day to join her luck to mine.
We have come far. We’re not alone in this.
There have been storms at sea. There have been tears
and there will be more tears. There have been days
I could have felt the dark flash in my brain
(and I will feel the dark flash in my brain).
There has been mercy and there has been rain.
I read a book that justifies its art
in every line and sip the tea and feel
the sunlight glowing in my bones, my skin.
I am the birthday boy, enlarged to nothing,
absorbed by everything the daylight offers.
This is the sort of thing that makes men kneel.
Consider me then, down on my old knees,
and this the benediction of an hour.