Sunday, May 8, 2011

Birthday Jam

Here's my contribution to the first-ever Poetry Jam. Click here for this week's linkywidget to all the formerly bus-riding poets.

The Phantom Birthday

She thinks of September
and which day it might have been
Her favorite pick changes
the fifth, that's a nice day.
or 22
twentytwo, like the sound of that.

She thinks of everything that would have been different
At every step of her life, how would he have fit in?
Or would life be so far from the one she knows as to be unimaginable?
College commencement, or a McJob and a first grader,
Late nights working, or late nights keeping a fever or cough company,
weekends at loose ends, or weekends of soccer and sleepovers and grocery carts piled high?

She misses a smiling face
not the arguments and the crises and constraints (imagined, all!)
She misses the birthday parties, the milestones, the firsts,
his graduation now, his college choice (how would she have paid for it all?), his wedding, his own children
   yes, already he's much older than she was.

They have a peaceful relationship
She imagines wonderful things
He doesn't reproach her, too much
A quiet what-if
With no birthday.


jabblog said...

This is powerful. 'What if' can haunt the present. Making peace with what cannot be undone is hard but can be achieved.

shabby girl said...

The gift is being happy where you end up in spite of the what ifs.

The Bug said...

Powerful is right.

Helen said...

You guided us beautifully, tenderly, with wisdom through all the milestones in life .. this touched my heart.

Peter Goulding said...

The idea of a phantom birthday is actually pretty appealing. Nice one!

Jinksy said...

All goes to prove life is not a bowl of cherries...

Titus said...

That's going to haunt me a long while. Immense.

GUNS said...

wasn't expecting that! t'was like a punch in the guts, every few lines! brilliant.

Bagman and Butler said...

Sometimes a really great poem is one that is difficult to read because the heart keeps wanting to run away from what it is saying.

Lolamouse said...

What ifs can be haunting. Would you trade it all for what's behind Door #2?

Doctor FTSE said...

Great control of your subject. Well written.