For celebration I would go
to a place where I was happy once
where it is possible to dance
three-legged, nice and slow—

or out into deep winter’s honest air
where love once walked
and with my stick crack open
every ice-clenched puddle there—

maybe I would haunt the bakery aisle
at Stop & Shop, ogle the cakes,
and scare some people I don’t know
with my all- knowing smile.

Forget the presents—my desire
to divest, to simplify, to give away,
and live more quietly a monk-life now
outstrips that old urge to acquire.

So at close of day, a vagrant star
might seem to twinkle loud enough
to seem to ask me how it was
to be here, to have come so far—

I would not know how to reply.
At dusk I would walk home, not
looking back as ice grew once again
on puddles, mirrors to a gridelin sky.

51 responses »

  1. Happy birthday, dear Cynthia !
    Tom has said it for all of us: I can’t do better than that.
    Oh, except to add that I am extremely annoyed that I had never before come across that amazingly specific adjective … which means I’ll probably see it all the time from now on. πŸ™‚

    • The actual natal anniversary is not until next week, but I have to get a head start celebrating seeing as I move so slowly these days. Glad to have found you a new word, though it’s such an odd one—not obvious to the senses, like boysenberry or claret—it probably never could catch on. Thanks for the good wish, M-R!

  2. Another milestone, another gem Cynthia my lovely friend. Honestly your poems are all jewels and I feel privileged to be accumulating a sparkling collection. And ‘ gridelin’ – what a wonfderful word! I may well need to ‘steal’ it sometime in the future πŸ˜„.

    Happy birthday to a wonderful poet and a great friend. And you can sing too 😊 I e always loved this song. I know you don’t want gifts but Im sending you xxxxxxxxx anyway! 😊

    • It’s a good thing there’s no copyright on single words…I think I stole “gridelin” myself, so feel free! It comes from the. French gris-de-lin, referring to a coloration of flax.
      As it happens my partner knew Art Garfunckle when they were both grad students in mathematics education at Columbia University in the late sixties. He always brought his guitar to class because he was rushing to one gig or another. Simon and Garfunkle music was a great favorite of ours in those days.
      Thank you, Chris…you are a gift, on any day xxx πŸ™‚

  3. Happy birthday to our dear Cynthia – as greetings come to you from all corners of the world. We are skipping with you in thought and cherishing memories past, as I bake a cake this weekend to honor and quietly celebrate your very colorful and fulfilling life. My present to you ~ Happy Birthday!

  4. You simply have a way with words. I sense it was a birthday greeting from you to us on your day, and via the comments, I see it’s not until next week. You can tell the day if you wish. Cheers to you in advance of that milestone day.

    • I’m pondering what you say here, Frank…that this is my greeting to you-all…yes, exactly!! The actual date, so I’m told, is January 24 (I was there, but I have no recollection…hadn’t learned my numbers yet)…this is a milestone we all reach, if we’re lucky (I guess) and in the case of my blogsville friends, looks like I have to be the one to go first!

  5. My wife has sometimes asked when I will outgrow the habit of cracking icy puddles each winter. The answer is, of course, never – and you too, I see! I enjoyed this poem anyway. Happy birthday, too.

    • Thank you. You have—perhaps unwittingly—cracked the simple winter puddle which is this poem, loosening what was at the heart of what it wanted to say. I’m glad to know you like puddle-cracking too. This is to warn you: you may never get over it….

  6. A beautiful poem. I love the reference to the gridelin sky, and to winter’s honest air, once full of love, and to the puddles of ice. And the cakes. Happy 70, enjoy…

    • Thank you very much, Anna. I appreciate your pointing out what you especially liked about the poem.

      I’m thankful to have commenters like you and others who simply read and respond in an authentic way.
      And thank you for the. Birthday wishes!

  7. It seems you have had a birthday or about to have one?!! Happy Birthday Cynthia! πŸ˜€

    A beautiful poem with a lot of wisdom – as your writing always is! I do love the idea of haunting the bakery aisle. What fun we could have, if there was such a thing as a ghost, but maybe there is, and I’ve just never seen one – in the bakery aisle! πŸ˜‰

    I agree with forgetting the presents. That’s something I was very excited about when I was a child, the receiving was good, but I actually enjoyed the giving more. The wrapping up, keeping it a secret and enjoying the smiles from family or friends. I’m not sure why, but all of that means a lot less to me now. I would rather spend money on a really lovely meal for a friend in a place where they let you sit and chat for hours. Friendship, and talking things out means more than material things – or at least extra material things none us really need.

    And the gridelin sky had me looking that up – my English spell check is not agreeing with that word at all – haha!!! I think that’s probably one of my favourite kind of skies other than those beautiful blue sky days that we don’t get a lot of where I live. And as always, you read it so well birthday girl! πŸ˜€

    • Thank you very much for your good wishes, Suzy. I think that if I ever do become a ghost, it will be so much easier for me to travel…then I will definitely come to haunt your Biddy’s Tea Room in Norwich!

  8. Hello Cynthia. I’ve been rereading a few times since you posted this, and your lines have got inside me. It’s that unanswered question I think; or ‘unanswerable’ really. Well done you, and happy birthday on the 24th!

  9. Cynthia, a lovely poem as lyrical as one of Simon and Garfunkle’s songs (like the one in your quote). In fact more so. I’m always in awe of your talent for writing such perfect and enjoyable lines and especially love this one. Best wishes for your birthday – and may it be a very good year for you! πŸ™‚

      • Yes, it’s scary. I’m just two years behind you and 70 is fast approaching. Why, just a few years ago we turned 50, right? And 70 is just a number. πŸ™‚
        I understand now the bafflement in the eyes of my grandmother (who lived to 108) as the passing years became more and more of a blur to her. She was still youthful in her mind, and sharp as a tack.
        When we’re young, we think it’ll last forever. And in some ways it does – we’re still “us”! Or perhaps, we’ve become MORE ourselves. Always in a state of becoming…..

        One of my favorite quotes: “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” (Wasn’t that Dylan?)


        • You’re right, it’s just a number, Betty. I’ve always noticed that when I get up on the morning after my birthday, I don’t feel a bit older….and yet somehow, at the same time, I am vaguely aware that change is happening, not just on specially numbered days, but all the time.

          I like that Bob Dylan song, thanks for reminding me of it!

  10. Cynthia, I feel it is best to start counting milestones only after your 200th year, and then, after 50 vainglorious years, it is wise to stop again, as, verily, those few decades are your window of opportunity; till then you may wish to close your gridelin damask curtains and wait for a more propitious moment to bake a cake.

    • My dear Prospero,
      I would expect nothing less than very sound advice from one who is old enough to have sprung full grown from The Bard’s imagination as he contemplated the wreck of the Sea-Venture in that time so very long ago. We who have not yet even a mere century of life on earth, never mind in Bermuda, must be silenced in awe. I’m not one to draw curtains, damask or otherwise, but as for the cake, I will do as you suggest, and wait not upon deliciousness, but rather propitiousness.

      • Dearest Cynthia,
        That was my prescription for cake, as in the Black Forest gΓ’teau I unwisely sacrificed only moments ago on the altar of some improbable milestone, but I made nary a mention of chocolate confections, which can be enjoyed daily, even in one’s infancy–and here I include anyone under ninety–since devilish bonbons and Mephistophelean pieces of dark chocolate are so roborant in the carefree days of our youth.

        • Your Most Esteemed Ancientness,
          I am happy with your prescription. With chocolate, the devil is in the darkness as you so clearly indicate. My canine friend, ChloΓ« perks her ears at the very first unwrapping of a chocolate bonbon….even if it’s a mile away from where she is sleeping soundly…even if I cough, run water or bang things to prevent her hearing. I don’t mind sharing, but the vet says theobromine is a no-no for dogs. (This flies in the face of the fact that one Halloween our family dog ate a whole bag of mini milky way bars–including wrappers–and proved none the worse for it. Of course that wasn’t DARK chocolate.)Real, dark chocolate is sinfully so, it’s devil’s food, as you so decoratively say. And yet in that perverse way we have of naming things ever since Adam pointed and grunted in the garden of Eden, we call the cacao tree genus Theobroma….food of the gods. Go figure.

          • But Widget, your erstwhile canine companion, had the good sense to concomitantly eat the wrappers (while splitting infinitives!), made of the finest polypropylene, the perfect antidote to the mythylxanines carefully injected into the chocolate–and this is a big task since Americans consume three billion pounds of the stuff per year–by Beelzebub himself.

            • Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Appolyon, Bellial, Father of Lies…..someone once told me there are more names for Satan in the Bible, than for Jesus Christ. Be that as it may, there is still today…and lovely blog commenters to delight me, like you…..and. chocolate.

  11. I loved it, so well written and filled with telling images. Happy milestone birthday!
    On occasions it is an event which we may want to conceal, not when we are very young and not when we reach a certain age of maturity- only the years in the middle.My three-score-and-ten comes up this August bringing a different set of climatic images – perhaps less literate than yours of winter. I told my husband that I wanted the event to be a wildly celebratory, no gifts event. How I agree with this sentiment. Would you consider a substitute for one of the “seems’ in verse five, or am I being too presumptuous?

    • Hello Jane, so nice to read what you say on this topic, especially since we share an “era”. I’ve never gone through that middle-aged fear of age. I have one friend, a fellow classmate in school, who used to be my age and has grown progressively younger. I think she’s around sixty-six now. I hope you do have just the kind of celebration you desire….though, isn’t Texas in August as climactically incommodious as Maine in January?
      As to the double “seems” in verse five…..I am always very wary of personification, and though I can speak to stars, stars themselves do not speak. I put “seem” in there twice, very deliberately, for. that reason, and am fond of the way it reads. A writing teacher or workshop might not agree to the effect, but let’s call it poetic license. πŸ™‚

  12. You need no poetic licence, Cynthia! Beautiful, scenic, thoughtful and thought-provoking words flow from you as fresh water from a mountain stream -refreshing the soul; growing with meaning, import and influence; becoming fast flowing rivers then meandering moments as they join the sea of life. So special.
    Happy Seventy Years Young for the 24th! May the day be special, the year ahead awesome and may your words never cease to flow! Love and thoughts on your milestone. πŸ™‚

    • Oh my, Rob….you’ve written such poetic lines, here. I am humbled, and more than a little touched.

      Today is the birth date of Sir Francis Bacon, I read this morning, who said: “Old age is always 15 years older than I am.” Good perspective, eh?

      Thank you so much for your kind words and good wishes!

    • Ah, Ramu…you are still young and have a very active life..I would not expect you to be reading the blog of a “littleoldlady” but to be out there “gather[ing] rosebuds while ye may…” Thank you very much for your good wishes!

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