Sherman Pearl

Today is the day my child did not arrive;

the calendar

has the smudge of a black-letter day.

Like the good father I might’ve been

I’ve cancelled the date

I had with myself

to spend this

numberless anniversary

of his un-birth with him—

to coo over the translucent

gray photos of him

curled into the act of becoming.

This is the day he moved

from his mother’s body to a vacancy in mine.

It’s the day

he’ll come shimmering out,

bright as the sun.

We’ll celebrate his almost-ness

with our annual walk to the toy store—

I’ll hear him laugh, almost,

and when we race down the street

almost catch up to him.

I’ll hold his might-have-been hand,

shorten my steps to match his.

I’ll look both ways

and we’ll cross

past loss, past sorrow. Inside the store

I’ll survey the gleeful shelves;

I’ll buy him something

that whirrs and squeaks and rattles.

Birthday by Sherman Pearl is the 2007 Anderbo Poetry Prize winner, for which he receives $500. Sherman Pearl was a co-founder of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and co-editor of CQ (California Quarterly). A retired journalist and free-lance writer, he has published four poetry collections over the past 12 years (the latest, "The Poem in Time of War", ConfluX Press, 2004). His work has been published in some 50 literary journals and anthologies. Among his awards, he won 1st prize in the 2002 National Writers Union poetry competition, judged by Philip Levine. He lives in Santa Monica, California with his wife, artist Meredith Gordon.

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