Birthday Cake

by Hayden Carruth

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.

please note: photo by im pastor rick


  1. Thank you for that.

    Right up my alley.

    Hope winter is loosening its grip.

    This is my second winter passed and spring coming with you... I'm happy about that.

  2. You are so sweet and kind to me, Miss FranciePants...doesn't seem that long, does it? Except for the winter parts...:>)

  3. This is a lovely piece, so marvelously tied together, and suits the season so well. I'm always amazed at what you find to share with us.

  4. This is stupendous poetry. Some of the things I would say if I were able to write, so full of feelings.

    I love the phrase,that you love me, confident in my amazement!

  5. Wonderful. I need to find more of Mr. Carruth's work. Such beauty, such hope. Thank you.

  6. Beautiful ! Bring on the flowers and birds !!!

    PS Was just reading today about an Ohio ex doctor found guilty of murder in the poisoning death of his wife. Hope that wasn't anywhere near you... Guess he forgot about his Hippocratic Oath, or maybe he took an Hypocritic Oath instead ?

  7. What a gorgeous, gorgeous poem!

  8. Loved this! I am reminded of the May-September romance-became-marriage described by Clyde Rice(A Heaven in the Eye and Nordi's Gift.), the mystifying yet assured "stupendousness" of it all.

  9. This is so wonderful. Thank you for all the beautiful words you share with us.

  10. What an eloquent celebration of seasons of life and love and being and writing.


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