For Noah, On Being Twenty-Nine
Instead of candles, cake, and paper hats
(which, let’s be real, would have been better)
I thought I’d walk you down a funny path,
(also: much easier than writing a letter)
But sitting here, too much time has passed
And now I’ve found all this regret:
birthdays missed, others dimmed, plans
Changed, parties rushed, and I forget:
Did I hug you on your seventh? Kiss
you on your eighth? I remember chasing
You across a playground on your fifth.
Or maybe number four. Cameras flashing,
And a little gift I knew you’d like. I
Was bad at surprises and you
Were bad at acting surprised.
I know the trope: aging Pop looks
back and asks where’d it all go?
Cat’s in the cradle and all that jazz.
I see you less now and there are days
When I can’t recall the last time we spoke.
But here’s a thing. You’re twenty-nine today
And that’s how old I was when you were born.
Does that matter? I don’t know,
But I think it should, if only to say
There’s a point to this father and sonning,
This end and beginning, hoping then dimming:
a balance between the past and pretending
to know what torrential future is coming.
Well, I started soft then got softer,
But there’s this: You’re a better man
Than I hoped you’d be, and my hopes were grand.
Happy Birthday, my son, from your Father.