At the End of My 63rd Year

by Jessica Greenbaum

I remembered one day when I was new to that part of the city
just wandering its small streets. It was snowing
which I had missed for the past seven years away
and I was walking with my beau, visiting from there. We were lost
in good and sad ways, and from behind the flakes we saw a shop
whose windows shone like fire through the grate of a woodstove—
it was a bookstore, Our Mutual Friend—
so we fell into it as you might a warm cabin in a winter woods
and if anyone reading this remembers that place
please get in touch because you may be the only force
between myth and memory. I was going to say how much
of that time of life has gone mythical—the journey to a strange land
the trials, the false friends and the true ones who unveiled
my powers (there all along!) our camaraderie outwitting challengers—
but is it any different than the present? I mean
how I will remember the present: this pre-dawn’s crescent moon
bottom heavy like a hanging sack of milk, the woodpecker
spiraling barber-pole style around the oak, and the sharp
autumn sunrise warmed inside by the actual orange fire through the grate
of the actual woodstove, which I open to add logs
so my family might have longer time warmed in sleep
because whatever is next and however it is spun
to reveal what I didn’t know back now, whatever the future will say
of the present’s trumpeting failures, whatever it will reveal
was hidden behind these trees and within these people
and how it might find me foolish from a whole geometry of angles
but especially for thinking I am more conscious at this age than at any other—
I want to note that this day—holding no major decisions or regrets
where almost everyone I love is still alive
where I’ve stumbled through weather into a life of great friendships
and love—was not made up, I’m in it now, I’m telling it true.

Last updated March 27, 2023