Many Happy Returns

Today is my birthday. I’m quickly slipping past my half century. Boomers still tell me I am young — because they are a decade or two older than me and they will not be old. (Boomers are so absolutely terrified of their impending nonexistence.) But I am happy to be old. I hope for a day when age once again has its privilege, when elders are respected, when wizened skin is an indication of accumulated wisdom. I am proud of my years. That there are more behind than ahead is no cause for alarm. My birthday wish for you is that you feel the same pride in the time behind you and never fear the time ahead.

I wrote this some years ago. I don’t think I quite understood it at the time, didn’t quite feel it. But now… I am beyond summer.


Early autumn woods
i am beyond summer now
but not yet in winter’s grasp
yes, beyond summer i am
beyond casual fecundity
and lazy green opulescence
under a wandering equatorial sun
i have no need of daisy chains
of glorious pink ribbons
because beyond the summerlands am i
oh yes, i remember those days of heat
remembrance and honour accordingly given
for within time one can only go through
and days stacked upon days lead to beyond
and i am beyond now
i am beyond
beyond summer into the world of gold
yes, silver, pink, green and gold
and back again to silver is the wheel
but i am beyond green, just
gilded in all the joys of autumn
and the sorrows
for do we not bedeck bowers in bittersweet
beyond summer
and such sweetness
such are the dulcet days beyond summer
all golden afternoon and horn of plenty
and the breathless merriment of gathering
such luscious days of saffron and mead
but even such as these, keenly edged in pale regret
for summer is blind in its verdant lethargy
spring is innocent and ignorant
but autumn
yes, autumn knows winter only too well
i am beyond summer this day
but not this day in winter’s grip
just beyond summer
and with the fall of leaves i am no longer blind
all the riotous golden pageant of these days
is buttressed by a silver silence
so complete it breeds fierce desire
i know
for i am beyond summer now
these autumn days
these glowing golden autumn days, i know
are a vain pursuit
gaily gathering dry leaves from the wind
still i cannot but smile
even amidst these strident tears
for these golden days beyond summer
these golden days of fruited dreams
the days of harvestland
are the consummation of being
i am beyond summer now
and so all this i know
this day
yes, you may believe in spring
live to yearn for lost youth
you my lie complacent in the summerland
not agitating green thoughts beyond bouquets
but i
i live for the golden days
i know silver follows soon
still i am beyond summer now
and my desires are ripe and golden

© Elizabeth Anker 2021