every death is a birthday…

197807-east-marion

John fathers Owen

 

oliverowen2012

Owen fathers Oliver

 

The Writer’s Almanac for Sunday, December 1, 2019


December 1st 

by Billy Collins

 

Today is my mother’s birthday,


but she’s not here to celebrate


by opening a flowery card


or looking calmly out a window.

If my mother were alive,


she’d be 114 years old,


and I am guessing neither of us


would be enjoying her birthday very much.

Mother, I would love to see you again


to take you shopping or to sit

in your sunny apartment with a pot of tea,


but it wouldn’t be the same at 114.

And I’m no prize either,


almost 20 years older than the last time


you saw me sitting by your deathbed.


Some days, I look worse than yesterday’s oatmeal.

Happy Birthday, anyway. Happy Birthday to you.


Here I am in a wallpapered room


raising a glass of birthday whiskey


and picturing your face, the brooch on your collar.

It must have been frigid that morning


in the hour just before dawn


on your first December 1st


at the family farm a hundred miles north of Toronto.

I imagine they had you wrapped up tight,


and there was your tiny pink face


sticking out of the bunting,


and all those McIsaacs getting used to saying your name.
 
“December 1st” by Billy Collins from The Rain in Portugal. Random House, © 2016. Reprinted by permission of Chris Calhoun Agency.

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