Saturday, February 19, 2011


The Continuous Life

What of the neighborhood homes awash
In a silver light, of children hunched in the bushes,
Watching the grown-ups for signs of surrender,
Signs that the irregular pleasures of moving
From day to day, of being adrift on the swell of duty,
Have run their course? O parents, confess
To your little ones the night is a long way off
And your taste for the mundane grows; tell them
Your worship of household chores has barely begun;
Describe the beauty of shovels and rakes, brooms and mops;
Say there will always be cooking and cleaning to do,
That one thing leads to another, which leads to another;
Explain that you live between two great darks, the first
With an ending, the second without one, that the luckiest
Thing is having been born, that you live in a blur
Of hours and days, months and years, and believe
It has meaning, despite the occasional fear
You are slipping away with nothing completed, nothing
To prove you existed. Tell the children to come inside,
That your search goes on for something you lost—a name,
A family album that fell from its own small matter
Into another, a piece of the dark that might have been yours,
You don't really know. Say that each of you tries
To keep busy, learning to lean down close and hear
The careless breathing of earth and feel its available
Languor come over you, wave after wave, sending
Small tremors of love through your brief,
Undeniable selves, into your days, and beyond.

--Mark Strand

(Because I'm in Cosimolandia, and not chez moi, I don't have access to my full supply of photos of Young Flavia. So I'm repeating this one from several years ago. I may be repeating this poem, too. But then, I'm getting old.)


Renaissance Girl said...

Happy, happy birthday, Flavia, here on the leading edge of a happy, happy year. Beautiful poem, well worth reading however many times you wish to post it. My mentor, you know....

Sisyphus said...

Happy birthday oh Flavian one!

Bardiac said...

Happy Birthday!!

Flavia said...

RG: I did not know that! (But it makes sense.) I think I have a copy of this poem somewhere written out in my tedious high-school handwriting, I've loved it for so long.

Susan said...

Happy Birthday! (And I love the picture even if it is a repeat.)

What Now? said...

Happy birthday -- wishing you blessings for a wonderful year ahead!

Ben said...

Happy Birthday from Virginia!

Anthea said...

Thank you for posting this poem. I've never read it before so it's new to me.

Happy Birthday!!