I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

6 September 2008

Happy Birthday

Prompt: a poem about a painful experience or one involving some other emotion, without stating the emotion. I've written enough pain poems this year to last a lifetime! So this isn't.

On your very first birthday
what did I give you,
knowing I gave?

A long journey
twelve hours, exhausting.
The briefest touch of my arms.

And instant recognition:
you could only be mine,
with those family features.

I gave you
a mother too tired
to hold you long that first time,

one who couldn’t feed you,
but could later cuddle, talk to you, rock
once we got the bottle right.

Much later I discovered
other things I gave you
from the first –

a love of poetry
and the gift to write it
from my Dad and his Dad and me

and music, not from
but through me,
one of my mother’s talents.

Now you’re 41
in just a few days.
I can’t believe it.

It’s hard to know what
I might give you this birthday.
Usually I don’t, just a call

or an email. We always say
we don’t need words –
we who love them.

And these days it’s you
who finds gifts for me,
nearly always a perfect book.

"Happy Birthday" is the Midweek Motif prompt at Poets United for 19 March 2014.  This seems a perfect piece to submit!


  1. We always say, we don’t need words – we who love them - Excellent, words of encouragement are such a source of joy. Love the way this feels

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you rallentanda. I wish I could comment on your blog too, but every time I try, either the comment is rejected or I am told that my browser cannot find your blog.

  3. Rosemary, it sounds like with your son the gifts flow both ways. I like the way you 'gave' him poetry and he gives you books!

  4. Splendid! Memory and present mingle so that the birthday is a gift both ways. And to look back and see the WIN in a day when you were so tired, is unconditional love for him and for you too. Thank God for children, mothers, words, books. This is an entrancing and magical poem. Thank you for posting it.

    1. It's good to come back to this poem and find it now strikes me as better than I thought it was when I wrote it! LOL.

  5. You made a wonderful birthday gift to your son Rosemary....such beautiful thoughts....

  6. and in the blink of an eye, the child is an adult. :)
    splendid poem, Rosemary, tender and heartfelt. the image of the bottle resonates with me.

    1. Ah yes, bottle feeding is something fathers can do too, right? :)

  7. This speaks of a job well done..both growing and knowing each other and yourselves..wonderful!

    1. Yes, it turned out all right. One never knows how it will go, while doing the job, but he was always fairly easy to get on with.

  8. A beautiful poem about a wonderful relationship. Loved this, Rosemary.

    1. Yes, this relationship is a great blessing in my life.

  9. This is such a moving piece and to know where your impetus to poetry originates. I have no idea myself

    1. Yes, in my case it runs in the family, and I'm glad to have passed it on. But, so long as it does originate, the where from is interesting but secondary.