Will Thomas

Thoughts For A Birthday - Poem by Will Thomas

In the loveliest
and loneliest springtime
I have ever known,
May moves me
(mercilessly, it seems)
toward what would have been
your sixteenth birthday.

With tight, pinched, but reverent lines,
your brother Jason etches your initials
in lower case
in the right hand corner
of the calendar square
devoted to June 11.

I will stop by a florist that day
to buy a plant:
English Ivy,
something green and growing,
something I can trust to last the year.

These, our rituals,
timid celebrations
of blasted dreams,

the things we do because,
for seven years now,
we have never known
exactly what to do.

Emily Elizabeth is almost four.
She knows your name,
your pictures on the wall,
has some cluttered understanding
of who you were,
of where you went.

I see you sometimes
in her scraped elbows,
her naked pirouettes around the coffee table,
the three-part conversations she holds
in her bed at night,
long after she should have given in to sleep.

I try not to see.
But I do.

Two or three weeks
after your ninth birthday
in that final summer of your life,
while playing
with your twelve-year-old cousin, Kate,
you tried on her brand new bra
and laughed out loud
because you had nothing with which
to fill it up.

You would,
you were promised;
in time,
you would.

(I think of that often these days.)

I am twenty-two days
from your sixteenth birthday,
seven years gone from your smile.

I carry your picture
in my wallet.
I try to write a poem.

The words 'Happy Birthday'
begin to form on my lips.
I take off my glasses,

and let my tears have their way.

May 20,1985

Comments about Thoughts For A Birthday by Will Thomas

  • (12/18/2005 5:54:00 PM)

    utterly moving
    the heart stops
    as the words proclaim
    your sorrow
    your love
    the memory somehow
    close to joy
    yet not really possible
    a fine poem
    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, December 18, 2005

Poem Edited: Tuesday, July 18, 2006

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