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Lynne McMahon

  • PoetryJune 13, 2002

    Birthday Poem

    Hot, rained-on, packed-down straw, strewn then abandoned
    between the rows of eggplant, tomato plants, onion, and herbs
    catches the evening's last September gnats in pale mats
    and renders, for a moment, the fall surrender untenable.

    Impossible, too, to make this sign--your birthday month--
    the winding vine of grapes at harvest, for who could drink
    in this heat, or light the candles and praise the cake?
    The half-century it took to make the man you are is far

    outstripped by the tipped and tilting present tense in which
    you accurately move, correcting the angle of guyed bamboo,
    brushing a confusion of wings from the plot, and not,
    in the slightest sense, wincing ahead to the unfathomable,

    intolerable winter, for straw, you said, muffles
    the living so they can't hear the dead.

    Lynne McMahon