Forty Eighth Birthday Poem

This one is special, and I keep waiting to feel like a grownup!

Forty Eighth Birthday Poem

You can draw strength from numbers,
five is a scythe to slice through resistance,
zero is an open mouth,
for releasing pain and pleasure.
I like 48 a bunch,
for it is both solid and serpentine.
The four can be written two ways,
the tops not touching and it is supportive chair,
a litter to carry you,
if the tip forms a triangle, it is sail,
whisking you over obstacles.
48 is four twelves or six eights,
the eight, which is double the four...
I could go on and on,
which it does, a double helix
for infinite chances and moments.

47, a Retrospective, was
A Year of Not Drinking
(I miss beer the most after hiking,
I miss it least every morning waking clearheaded),
Year of Not Picking Up My Guitar
(it hangs by my bed and still beckons)
Year of Inviting a New Child into My Family
(I made a wish for another daughter and got one six years later)
Year of Painting My House Shades of White
(my once cinnamon office is now vanilla).

I awoke 48 with a birthday dream,
just executing a swan dive,
an Acapulco resort plunge,
which took long enough
for me to feel belly swoop
and wonder if I would fall safely into aqua water,
long enough to breathe into the fear.

Some things that are leaving me-
shortest term memory,
did I add sugar to my tea,
get the mail,
already wash my armpits?
The need to respond immediately
when someone pisses me off.
Some things that are arriving-
patent patience,
I have begun to leave the room
instead of fume.
Instead of responding right off, I have said,
I am not sure what I am feeling,
then snorted, sorted snuffed it out.
I have stopped asking why I couldn’t
have mastered this at 12, 24, 36.

I am beginning to calculate the rest of my life
not in years, but in seasons, eons, epochs.
Coming up, a decade of heavy lifting,
my sixties will be all about finish work,
then lift off and finally glide.
If I am extremely lucky, here at half life,
I will have forty plus more chances
to finally plant the bulbs I have been meaning to,
Icelandic poppy, narcissus, lemony daffodil,
at ten miles a week of hiking I could
almost walk around the globe,
from the Pacific Northwest back to Alaska.
At a steady clip of reading two books a week,
I could make it partway through
authors that start with A.
So little and so much time.

For decades I have been
missing something I owned at age four,
searching for it with ice axes and head lamps,
now I realize it is more excavation
than conquest.
Each a journey,
but the former requires no special
Innocence, wonder,
they have been with me all along,
sometimes in the trunk,
sometimes like a key in a magnetic case,
tucked under the bumper.