Tag Archives: poetry

Birthday Thanks

I’ll be honest. In terms of actual birthdays, it hasn’t been the greatest ever—we drove all day yesterday and for half of today, and it’s always a big fat bummer to come home to the Christmas stuff, and all the mess of unpacking the car, getting ready to go back to work tomorrow, making sure we have food in the house, etc.

We are all super tired too.

But that’s just the way it had to be, you know? I’m not super anal about celebrating on the actual day. Robert and I had a great dinner with my siblings last Thursday, and will celebrate more this weekend. There are other little dinners and things planned with friends, and I suspect there will be some revelry still to come once Caroline and Robert get home from the grocery store and vague “errands.” But still—kind of a blah day. A day in transit and transition.

So I appreciated today’s offering from the Writer’s Almanac. Inspired by that poem, as well as my life (which is pretty darn awesome when I take a step back)… I give you “Birthday Thanks.”

To the newly knitted mittens,
made with a little of this and that
over late-night vacation conversations.

Praise the cold that received us
as we drove north, and to
the bushel of red navel oranges in the trunk
to make that cold more bearable.

Praise the homecoming, like walking into a museum of our life,
everything untouched.

Praise the dot matrix paper, unfurled,
with H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y scrawled across it, praise the
barefoot six year old, now coloring between each letter.

Praise the cardboard box
which has become a ramp for the Matchbox cars.

Praise the tuning fork
which became the most beloved gift
for the eight year old who always whistles.

Praise the speakers in the kitchen
playing all the right music
while the boxes get flattened and the Monopoly put away.

Praise the counter, crammed with groceries:
bananas that will be perfectly yellow by morning,
and sliced bread in all its preparedness,
ready for tomorrow’s lunchbox assembly line
even if I am not.

Advent: Waiting

I wrote this six years ago when I was pregnant with Margaret.

talk to me about the waiting…

mostly I crouch, head bowed, eyes closed
against the soft black, safe in liquid suspense.
but even in the nothing there are constant somethings:
a fluid symphony, simmering, rolling, rushing past;
a metronome beating out the time,
world without end—and a voice:
hushed murmur, burbling laugh,
distant yet irresistible.

and then, at certain times,
I am bathed in thirsty, throaty songs:
o come, o come,
long-expected one;
rejoice, rejoice,
prepare the way;
comfort, comfort,
alleluia, amen.
and these reverberations of hope
shake the cradle that holds me,
and I stretch the kinks out of kneeling legs,
raise my arms in praise,
then bow and wait, again,
for that time when we will sing
Joy!
To the World!
together.

“Autumn Daybreak”

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Posted this week at the Englewood Review of Books. I love this poem, especially the last line. From my desk in the Blue Room, there’s a window that overlooks a large tree, and behind it, my neighbor’s house, which is where James goes during the day while I work. I love it in the winter because the leaves are gone and I can see him as he plays outside.

Cold wind of autumn, blowing loud
At dawn, a fortnight overdue,
Jostling the doors, and tearing through
My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,
I know—for I can hear the hiss
And scrape of leaves along the floor—
How may boughs, lashed bare by this,
Will rake the cluttered sky once more.

Tardy, and somewhat south of east,
The sun will rise at length, made known
More by the meagre light increased
Than by a disk in splendour shown;
When, having but to turn my head,
Through the stripped maple I shall see,
Bleak and remembered, patched with red,
The hill all summer hid from me.

The Pastor Leaves a Voice Mail

I took the weekend off from National Poetry Month, but here’s a quick one.

You want to talk to the person. It’s why you called,
to wade into their sorrow, gripping your tether.

But the poignant moment is when you call
and hear their voice,
their recorded voice, their before-voice,
before their dear one slumped to the floor,
before the doctor gave that head-tilt look.

It breaks your heart, they are so cheerful,
reciting that banal modern liturgy
on an unassuming Thursday.