Saturday

A Happy Birthday



If, as some would have it, we choose the day and through whom we are born then I chose a wild one. The particulars of the day included a historic storm that managed to cover and shut down the entire state of Tennessee with five inches of ice. Over this ice field my teenaged soon-to-be mother was driven to the hospital by my father's brother with his just acquired licence for doing so fresh in his sixteen year old hand.  What a ride through yet to be rail-guarded mountain roads those 18 miles must have been.  The years have calmed my mother but hysteria was always close to hand for her in those days. What a ride.

And today?  Fifteen degrees fahrenheit and ice to mark the occasion no less.  What can I say...the gods must be smiling. And in truth I think they are.  With a cup of hot tea I lay listening to Paul Winters's classic Winter Into Spring this morning in my warm and lovely bedroom reading poetry.

Reading poems from Adrienne Rich: Dream of a Common Language. I have not read her in some years. I have found myself doing so today because a friend, who has recently come to poetry, has been held close by her work for several months now.  Recently come to poetry?  Like a church does it wait, eternal and patient, for even the most cognitive-driven to succumb?

I have found her choices to be, not unexpectedly, remarkable.  By this influence, on this birthday of mine, I have traveled though poetry back in time and find myself pleased with that self reading Rich when so very young. How easily the meal of superiority could have fed the always eager ego:  I was first, I read that years ago.  Where were you then? Instead of a full blown course of that sugary serving, I have let my friend lead me back and a treasure I have found. Rich , the poet, as well as a glimpse of my young radically feminist self to whom she spoke so clearly.

Surely experience in the sublime is at hand for us all just as the earth's great "unified field of energy" is at hand for our nourishment.  But those moments of epiphany, as powerful as they are, seem often to slip into deeper, less accessible  memory unless set down in music, paint or word.  Or returned to source by the experiences of a friend.  Friendship brings many riches, surely this is one.

Yesterday another friend, a beloved fellow artist-in exile, found his way back to a day fifteen years ago to an act of painting.  He traveled though music and poetry to re-capture and re-claim the magic of that day and on his return has offered as a birthday gift one of the inks he returned with. A veritable knight with his captured grail, the graciousness of his generosity has touched my heart.  As it has so many times in our long and lovely friendship.

The singers have called and sung.  David's perfect gift has been opened.  The future that seemed possibly grim yesterday has been changed into its altogether opposite today.  How very fortunate I am to be so rich in friendships, rich in family, rich in place. And if, in fact, these things have been a part of some mystery in which I did choose, I think I have chosen well. What a ride this life has been.  What a ride this life promises to come.