85th Birthday – 21 September 1999
Six years since your last birthday in our midst
seems yesterday, in this same so-loved house,
family and friends, near, far, love overflowing,
letters, cards, calls, from the world’s corners came,
your birthday poem, the last that I could read you.
Six years. Have you escaped our universe
to unplumbed space; or do you hear us still?
Now it is spring again, just as it was,
Your birthday season.
Attentive Andrea (you were twenty-three)
acclaimed you ‘Signorina Primavera’.
You blushed, held firm, but tucked away the phrase.
Here, things you loved return: pink prunus blossom
After blue winter iris, gold acacia,
The willow’s virgin tresses, the apple gum
With blue-green leaves that feast small fluttering birds…
Spring life and colours celebrate your day
with store of joy and riches overflowing
poured out on us beyond all measuring –
the story that we hoped to tell.
But as I range those shared eventful years
Sudden, unbidden, breaks a flow of tears,
not for the piercing grief of loss or pain
but joy that was, and may not be again.