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On My Son's Birthday

Robyn Sarah
From:   The Touchstone, Poems New & Selected. Anansi, 1992

Already the beans have begun their wild climb,
twining tough runners round and round each string
we anchored to the porch above our own.
Only a month ago, you helped me press
the seeds we popped from dry brown pods last fall
into the holes you poked with your small fingers.

Today you wake me, holding up five fingers
to mark your years, triumphant, as you climb
beside me into bed, but not to fall
asleep again. Later you know we'll string
balloons, wrap favours. Eager, your cold feet press
for warmth, toes curled tight, against my own.

This is our day, this day you call your own.
Five years ago today, I counted fingers,
touched perfect limbs, and felt your small mouth press
against my nipple. After our breathless climb
we lay together, linked by a tough string
cut cleanly to allow your perfect fall.

First-fruit; conceived, not like our beans, in fall,
popped from the pod in summer. This has its own
logic, I think; I touch it like a string
and feel it resonate beneath my fingers.
The months are like the scale's twelve tones we climb
yearly, as toward this fundament they press.

Born at the solstice. Born when light's clean press
toward summer scales its height and points to fall,
but when the vines have just begun their climb
into the light to rhythms of their own
with leaves uncurling like a baby's fingers.
This is the day the arrow left the string.

Lying beside me now, taut as that string
with all the day's solemnity, you press
your hand against my hand to measure fingers,
show me scaped knuckles from a recent fall,
tell me you'd like a scooter of your own.
Outside, the sun begins its perfect climb.

My sprout, my vine, my own, God guard your climb
and string you toward your flowering. As my years press
toward fall, I count my blessings on your fingers.

Robyn Sarah's works copyright © to the author.

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