By mentioning an odometer I might be mixing metaphors. An odometer measures distance, not time, but for support I call Indiana Jones in my defense: “It’s not the years honey, its the mileage”.
I’ve got many complex and shifting thoughts on birthdays. I will sum them up by saying I greatly prefer them to the alternative. Living thirty years on borrowed time gives that perspective.
Last weekend we took a sojourn into downtown Saint Paul and saw this poem. Apropos of the day I think.
I’ll send you on your way with Donald Justice’s 1967 poem (that I have quickly grown to love), Men At Forty, which I believe first appeared in Poetry magazine.
Men at Forty
by Donald Justice
Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.
At rest on a stair landing,
They feel it moving
Beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.
And deep in mirrors
The face of the boy as he practices tying
His father’s tie there in secret
And the face of the father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.
They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
Something is filling them, something
That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.