Friday, June 12, 2015

Birthdays of the Dead

an old family photo of Dan that was in the slide show at his memorial

You know how Facebook is watching you? You shop for lingerie or shoes or a new blender and then the next thing you know your side bar is full of bras and shoes and kitchen appliances? I think the website is watching me. So often a poem drops into my inbox that seems just right.

Today is Dan's birthday. I'm in Maryland picking up my mom and Dan is nowhere and everywhere. If he were still alive, I certainly wouldn't be on the east coast. I'd probably have gotten concert tickets to...well, who knows. It's odd that we think of the dead on their birthdays, I guess. But how can we not think of them?


A. Van Jordan, 1965

I would like to swim in the Atlantic,
to swim with someone who understood
why my fear of drowning plays less dire

than my fear of bones, walking the ocean floor.
I would like to sync my stroke with a beloved.
I’d like to stand on deck on a boat

and jump in the sea and say, follow me,
and know you would. The sea is cold
and it’s deep, too
, I’d joke,

standing at the edge of the boat’s bow.
A wind breathes across the sea,
joining gently the edges of time.

With a dog paddling behind me,
I want to crawl across the water
without thinking about a future.

I have set my eyes upon the shore
and I hold you there—steady, in focus—
but let you go when, from below,

a voice breaks to the surface.


Ms. Moon said...

That's a gorgeous poem. And that joke is a popular one among the men in my family.
Yes. Dan is nowhere and everywhere. Isn't that the strangest, darndest thing? How is that possible?
It is most fitting, I think, to celebrate his birthday. And that picture...beautiful.

37paddington said...

Happy birthday Dan. The poem is perfection..

Elizabeth said...

Oh, that poem. I have never read it and want it imprinted. So beautiful. Happy birthday, Dan. I see his face in my mind's eye, his wide smile.