Good Loving Woman

Good Loving Woman

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“Birthday Cake” (Hayden Carruth)

March 5, 2013 ,

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For breakfast I have eaten the last of your birthday cake that you

had left uneaten for five days

and would have left five more before throwing it away.

It is early March now. The winter of illness

is ending. Across the valley

patches of remaining snow make patterns among the hill farms,

among fields and knolls and woodlots,

like forms in a painting, as sure and significant as forms

in a painting. The cake was stale.

But I like stale cake, I even prefer it, which you don’t

understand, as I don’t understand how you can open

a new box of cereal when the old one is still unfinished.

So many differences. You a woman, I a man,

you still young at forty-two and I growing old at seventy.

Yet how much we love one another.

It seems a miracle. Not mystical, nothing occult,

just the ordinary improbability that occurs

over and over, the stupendousness

of life. Out on the highway on the pavement wet

with snow-melt, cars go whistling past.

And our poetry, yours short-lined and sounding

beautifully vulgar and bluesy

in your woman’s bitterness, and mine almost

anything, unpredictable, though people say

too ready a harkening back

to the useless expressiveness and ardor of another

era. But how lovely it was, that time

in my restless memory.

This is the season of mud and thrash, broken limbs and crushed briers

from the winter storms, wetness and rust,

the season of differences, articulable differences that signify

deeper and inarticulable and almost paleolithic

perplexities in our lives, and still

we love one another. We love this house

and this hillside by the highway in upstate New York.

I am too old to write love songs now. I no longer

assert that I love you, but that you love me,

confident in my amazement. The spring

will come soon. We will have more birthdays

with cakes and wine. This valley

will be full of flowers and birds.

“Birthday Cake” by Hayden Carruth, from Toward the Distant Islands: New & Selected Poems. © Copper Canyon Press, 2006.

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