The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday

By Jane Shore

after Cavafy

Flickering above the pink rosettes
and your name iced in ivory buttercream,
a bouquet burns on top of your cake,
fifty blossoms of flame.

One candle equals a year of your life,
plus one more to wish on.
Hurry, make a wish, blow them out!
They’re out. Now cut the cake.

But wait—a guttered wick sputters and sparks
as if it suddenly has a mind of its own—
now another is lighting up,
and one by one, the dead reawaken
until every candle on the cake is on fire again.

Who, among the raised champagne flutes,
played this joke on you?

Rekindled years return like little waves of nausea.
Here’s 1947, the year you were born.
And 1956, when your mother bore your sister.
Now 1993 joins the crowd—that December you buried your father.
You thought you’d blown that candle out,
but like all these other candles,
it’s making you miserable all over again!
Blow it out, you’ll forget again.

But the dead don't stay dead.

Mother and Father, conspiring behind the door,
dimmed the chandelier in the dining room
where you sat, a child at the head of the table,
in your pinafore, your paper party hat,
feigning surprise as the solemn
procession sang happy birthday to you,
faces glowing, your dear ones holding your cake,
your future lighting up before you.

There were fewer candles then.
You could blow all of them out at once.
But now, dozens of candles—
you can’t draw a breath
deep enough to extinguish them all.

Gasping, you stand like a fool
before the growing years of your past
and the dwindling years of your future—
choking on smoke, putting out wildfires
while fresh ones spring up around you.


It has not been a terrific day, but many people I know are having much worse days and weeks so I will keep this short. Ran out to the mall to do chores, told my mother I'd meet her for lunch...I needed to get something at the Container Store and she was already on Rockville Pike, so we went to the noodle place in Congressional where I had the very good Japanese noodles and chicken. Came home, took younger son to violin, tested him on the material that will be on his science re-test tomorrow, wrote an article on the Oregon congressman who compared the Bush Administration to Klingons and another on Damon Lindelof, who said absolutely nothing about Star Trek XI but apparently now even a producer saying nothing counts as news for Trekkies. Feel like I was running around most of the day but accomplished very little.


Winter has finally arrived and it is below 30 degrees, though it was in the 40s while I was out this afternoon. I guess we are going to lose the daffodils coming up in the front yard. The combination of the cold, the end of my period and the kind of evening I had makes me crave chocolate. I should make diet resolutions in March when the sun is coming back, I'd keep them so much better. At least the Senate is bucking Bush and Hawking has everyone listening for the moment to the threat of global warming. I want to feel optimistic about things.

Does anyone have suggestions for a really great but not outrageously expensive camera bag to travel with? Something big enough for an extra lens, filters, battery, SD card and my cell phone, but not huge.

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