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Contributor: J.K. Durick

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Eventually, after all the candles and cake
We come to know the past tense of things

The pull and peel of the years we celebrate
The undressing of time, ourselves revealed

More memory than hope, less time to spend
We count up or count down, numbers fixed

Inflexible, unforgiving aging, we grow older
New limits are set, distances, hours and days

After candles and cake we make a discovery
The irony of it all, celebrating time passing

The same song each year, they ask how old
And if we’re sports we sing back our age

How old are you? How old are you? And I am
Six or sixty, eighteen or eighty, never the same

It’s like peeling off wallpaper in an old house
Layer after layer never knowing which is last

It’s like whistling a happy tune walking alone
Down a dark street, always hoping for the best

Eventually, after candles and cake, that song
And all the embarrassing presents we pack up

Gather all the goodies around us and start out
Again, more birthdays, birthdays, birthdays.

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J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Black Mirror, Deep Water Literary Journal, Poetry Super Highway, and Rainbow Journal.


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