The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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Ropes pulled tight at the huge plastic tarp
we tied from the house to the trees
like a sail, in case it rained.
It rained. I became fifty. Then the sun shone,
then the moon. My oldest friend
stood beneath the sag where water
collected and pushed it up with a broom,
and a big puddle, brownish from spring oak trees,
whooshed onto the edge of the lawn.
Tiki torches lit the periphery;
laughs from the kitchen burst like waves.
A few lovers burned marshmallows
over at the firepit.
Looking around, I was so happy.
In the morning, some were up making breakfast,
others bagged a beer-bottle typhoon
that had blown through the yard,
and I woke with a woman in my bed
I’d known in high school, hadn’t seen
in twenty-five years, who’d come through
divorce and cancer scars and was
more beautiful. She stayed three days.
Now the wind lifts and drops the birthday sail
all day and night — when I lie in bed,
I feel rocked by the sea, the sound
just out the bedroom window.
The ropes loosen and tighten,
the years like a boat
in which I am carried.