Birthday

audioear pictureHear the author read this poem (in RealAudio)

When I was a boy, we called it punishment
to be locked up in a room. God's apparent
abdication from the affairs of the world
seemed unforgivable. This morning,
climbing five stories to my apartment,
I remember my father's angry voice
mixed up with anxiety & love. As always,
the possibility of home—at best an ideal—
remains illusory, so I read Plato, for whom love
has not been punctured. I sprawl on the carpet,
like a worm composting, understanding things
about which I have no empirical knowledge.
Though the door is locked, I am free.
Like an outdated map, my borders are changing.

Henri Cole's latest book of poems is Middle Earth (2003), which received the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.
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