The Boy on His Birthday

I haven’t attempted much poetry since college.  As such, I’m not even sure that’s what this is.

For what it’s worth, this came from a strangely deep and abiding emotion which washed over me at my son’s 5th birthday party.  It was such a melancholy sensation seemingly linked not only the quick pace of life and the fact that he is aging before our eyes (as are all of our kids), but also (or especially) the fact that I often fail to soak it in.  It seemed best expressed in “poetical” form.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

The Boy on His Birthday

He is there,
The Boy, on his birthday,
Framed within the glass of the doors,
As I move across the room, at some task
      Or another.

I nearly float, unable or unwilling to stop.
Cannot take time to celebrate him,
And the perspective shifts,
Distinct, like an overused camera trick.

He sits, tinkers,
A convocation with some new Thing,
Soon-forgotten spoils
Examined in the evening sun.

I move at a tangent, he disappears,
Emerges microseconds later
Within the next pane.
      (Or is it eons?)
He is grown; inexplicably he has aged.

He is five years, he is fifty.
He is an ancient man
Nursing grudges centuries old,
And I have been dead for years.

He has learned to live in his mistakes,
To feel the weight of countless holidays
Which pass quickly and without festivity,
Always more sweet in the haze of hindsight.

This old man, whom I once held in my arms
To quell fear or sickness or fatigue,
In his own twilight swims 10,000 connected lakes
Looking for a shoreline which reminds him
     Of something lost.

He surfaces, thinks he sees it,
That ideal he once held high,
That nearly-dreamt thing,
There on the closest rocky beach.

He considers it again, as energy wanes,
And realizes he does not recognize it,
Within the foggy features of that shore.
His dream is not there.

Head down he swims again.
Swims and feels as able as ever,
Swims, but it is an illusion.
Swims, but it will all wear off, soon. 
     He will float under.

And as he descends,
He will remember with a pang so total
That it overtakes every nerve,
His own son, aging in the evening light.

Hello, Leviathan.
Somehow I knew you'd be here,
In these murky depths.
Terrible, but not to be feared.

We share this space now, you and I.

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