every death is a birthday…


John fathers Owen



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.

%d bloggers like this: