November 20th

What is this need we have
   to mark time?
Another November day…
   rain and leaves fall,
And somewhere it is the
   anniversary of a battle,
Or the memorial day
   for an earthquake or flood,
Or the date a great jazz
   singer-songwriter died,
And it is also the date
   of my birth.

That early 70s evening,
   my grandparents dined out,
Celebrating their once-upon-a-time
   wedding, while my mother
Waited, not knowing it would be
   her night to push and groan
Late into the evening to grant
   her first child life.

Thirty-five years later,
   the wedding date passes…
Orlo is dead many years and
   Alta remembers nothing
Of the little girl with curly hair
   eating gingerbread cookies
In her after-school kitchen –
   both of us cheated of our past.

On my November day,
   the temperature drops,
Puddles collect by curb and median,
   mother winter waits her turn.
Still… lights and street lamps glow,
   and trees twinkle with water,
Telling me:
   to be alive is magic. Just that.

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