You nearly weren't; you clung on
Ducked the storm that tried to
sweep you to its streaming gutters
Determined to open your eyes in a bright world.
You’ve brought yourself to this anniversary.
No one gave you the manual, you just tangled
around life like a doona on a windy day clothesline
Pourquoi hair, pourquoi pleurer, j’étais vivante.*
Philosopher king on a black square
almost doesn’t meet pale queen.
We crossed wire and cafés, but you waited an hour
for Wittgenstein and I to find you with gelati.
You give me Neds, I give you Richter.
We redesign our words to keep each other safe
Rip our forevers apart, then stitch eternity back together.
Take it in turns to say: “I’m glad you put up with me.”
Thirty-six years ago you were a spun-gold boy.
Thirty-six years later you have your own bright child.
His fingers paint your white t-shirt into a strawberry.
I have taught him to say “Happy Birthday, Da.”
*A line from the Yves Bonnefoy poem Douve Speaks from this book. Translation 'Why hate, why weep, I was alive.'
Happy 36th Birthday, Paul love. I'm glad you put up with me (my turn to say it). Many, and many.
This poem is also based on suggestions from three peeps:
- @lucyrogue: "streaming gutters, gelati, hand-painted Tshirt (this is my evening but also ideas)."
- @ernmalleyscat: "wrestling a windy doona cover from the clothesline"
- @SeanMElliott: "Chessboard love. Pawn falls in love with the queen of the opposition." (Except I had to make it King - as the phrase 'Philosopher king' was too fitting to miss.)
The photo is of Paul when he was 10 days old.