by Mitchell Geller
Desert Moon Review
Honorable Mention, April 2007
Judged by Bryan Appleyard

Normally this week I’d gather together
the ingredients for your special birthday cake:
a rather grandiose Victoria Sandwich.
Two layers of orange Genoise
filled with lemon curd and frosted
with an orange buttercream,
and decorated with candied orange peel from Provence.
One year I made the lemon curd from scratch,
using, you said, every goddamn pan in the house,
and please, for Christ’s sake next year buy a jar!
My gift to you would usually be something blue:
that aquamarine stickpin I designed
when you turned 47, your birthstone’s
limpid beryl beauty so much like your eyes,
or that Lorenzini shirt, the shade of
a Tuscan sky, with every buttonhole
stitched in a different whimsical colour.
You adored that shirt, and wore it constantly,
the pumice of your two o’clock shadow
abrading its collar to shreds.
Some years a book — “The King Of Instruments”
still sits on the glass coffee table;
or a recherche CD, or a Novello edition
of a Bach transcription.

Last year I was stupefied with gin
and stayed in bed the whole day,
occasionally listlessly getting up
and picking out the anthem
from the 4th Saint-Saens concerto
with one finger on the dusty Steinway grand,
with truly voluptuous masochism,
crying until the skin around my eyes was raw.

This year, as sober as the mohel at a bris,
(and quite liking the way it feels)
I will go to hear a poet read at Harvard Books,
and eat a caesar salad. I’ve nearly lost a stone
of what I’d gained — for a while there some of
your things fit me, and I felt like you.
It wouldn’t have surprised me,
if, shaving one day, I found that my eyes were blue,
and my nose smaller and elegantly perfect,
and that my chin had developed a deep round cleft,
sexy, but quite hard to shave.

Oh my love please be assured
that I would most certainly still need you,
and deem it an honour supreme to feed you,
had you awakened this March 22nd,
and turned 64.