Friday, April 14, 2006

It's my birthday! It's been a lovely day--my family let me sleep in this morning, and my parents took me and Matt to an absolutely scrumptious birthday lunch at the Ponte Winery in Temecula. It felt as if we were at a vinyard in Europe, not just 40 miles from home.

I stumbled upon a poem I wrote about my birthday about 10 years ago, and thought I'd share it here:

Happy Birthday

My birthday, April 14, is the day
before tax day. I never noticed
this as a child, never felt the menacing
cloud of numbers shunting around
my birth--I just saw yellow
marshmallow chicks in my mind,
jelly beans, buttery morning pastels.
Little Jewish girl, my birthday
was colored, hallowed, by Easter,
which landed on the day I was born
and the same day, seven years later.
I felt as if I had been hatched
from a lavender and sea green egg,
the soothing shards of it
still stuck to me like confetti.

Now I am learning the other colors
that tint the day of my birth,
darker, sharper, colors, colors
that have etched their way
into my body's palette--
the dark blood of birth,
the cold invisible air we enter into--
although on my birthday,
56 years ahead of me,
it was cold water many entered
as the Titanic struck an iceberg
and sent people drifting down
into the frigid deep,
full of penguins and whales.
I have heard that icebergs
can hold veins of color,
blues and greens, that they can glow
with that color like a lantern,
and I hope that's what people
could see through their fear
on my birthday, as their limbs
went numb and their lungs froze
in their chests--a flash of luminous
color lighting their watery trail
away from themselves.

Tragedies are attracted to April 14th, it seems--
that same day, 103 years before my birth,
Abraham Lincoln was shot.
This knowledge disturbs me,
because I always thought my father
was Lincoln reincarnated--
something about his eyes, his skin,
plus the fact that his initials
together--AIB--sound like honest ABE,
and it made my heart ache to think of him
dying on my birthday,
although who knows, maybe old Abe
sent out his ghost seed through my dad
to ensure someone would be born
the day he left he earth,
someone who loved theaters
as some sort of karmic retribution
(a slightly cocky thought, I suppose,
but one filled with promise,
and that's what birth is, isn't it--

You know, this was supposed to be a sad poem.
I really wanted this to be a sad poem,
full of pathos and shadow,
but it appears some other part of me
is winning out...
No matter how dark I try to get,
those holiday colors still line
the interior of my skull.

I had forgotten that I had written this poem, and so had forgotten that I had written the part about my dad and Abraham Lincoln. It's kind of a funny thing--the novel I'm writing right now features a girl who thinks her dad is Abraham Lincoln reincarnated. The storyline of the novel isn't autobiographical in any way, but that part is definitely taken directly from my life.

So weird to think of myself as 38. Inside, I still feel like that seven year old girl with an Easter birthday. I'm glad I was able to share part of the day with my parents--I'm very grateful that they brought me into the world!


Kit Stolz said...

Happy Birthday, Gayle!

gayle said...

Thanks so much, Kit! :)

Anne said...

I am late to the party, but I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

gayle said...

Thanks, Anne! It was a wonderful birthday, indeed. Hope you're having a wonderful day!


Rachel said...

Forgot about your b-day completely! I knew it was around this time...

I hope you enjoyed your birthday!


gayle said...

Thanks so much, Rach. It was definitely an enjoyable day!