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a birthday poem for Susan

January 11, 2010


Today is my birthday–almost 50–
and I’ve been thinking about Susan Mobley.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Susan lately.
We went to school together our whole lives,
and while we weren’t close, I remember
slumber parties at my house and hers at the
beach, celebrating birthdays together.

She looked like Skipper, Barbie’s little sister:
a sheet of thick straight hair, freckles dancing.
She was always tanned brown because she loved
the water–she could surf when we barely
could paddle her board out to sea. She was
always at the beach, with us on the sand
by the pier or in the waves, or at her
family’s Faria beach house near Rincon.

When we graduated from high school, I
lost track of her and she me: we weren’t
that close of friends. I don’t remember
one way or another whether she came
to any reunions I attended;
she probably did. College, family, homes
take us in separate directions from our
childhoods. We don’t miss people usually.

At Macy’s the other day, Tami Osborne told
me the news about Susan, how she
died trying to rescue her boys in a
boating accident: one she saved, one drowned
with her. Hard to believe, to hear–we hugged.

Today as I near 50, desperately
in love with my small, gifted, precious boy,
ambivalent about so much, I know
I would gladly give my life in that way.
I would gladly pass on my life to Susan
if she could then save herself and her son.

c. Gwendolyn Alley aka Art Predator 01/11/10

Winter Sunset

Originally uploaded by alan_sailer

Although it is dangerous to assume the speaker in a poem, the “I” is the author of the poem, in this case the “I” in the poem, is the author, is me. I really have been thinking about Susan and it really is my birthday today, and when I woke up this morning, I had to write this down. I post poetry at least every Monday on this blog, so there’s plenty all over this site, especially poetry from the 3:15 Experiment. You can find more poetry on the Train.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2010 6:08 pm

    Touching memorial to your friend and your own feelings for her. Happy birthday to you both, she lives on in her son and your eternal friendship. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. January 11, 2010 9:00 pm

    Phew, that’s so emotional, you made me cry! Beautifully done!

  3. January 11, 2010 9:15 pm

    Sorry about that, my eyes were streaming
    so much I couldn’t see the keyboard.
    I forgot to say Happy Birthday to you!
    So Happy Birthday! and here’s a link to my
    cycling post..
    My homemade extra-cycle

  4. January 12, 2010 6:01 pm

    Happy Birthday Gwen! I saw that it was the 11th yesterday, and meant to call or e-mail. Here I am, one day late, letting you know that you are being celebrated, by me, all week!

    Thanks for the story about Susan. And for sharing your profound love for your boy that I know so well too (and sometimes forget now that he’s a teenager!). I just lost a good college friend myself–cerebral aneurism while eating Christmas eve dinner, just 48. Also a writer, a journalist, for UPI, Eric Nordwall. It does make you think about things differently now that it’s evident none of us are ‘too young’ anymore to face the inevitable.

    Happy twentyten and new year for you, Gwen. much love, Marialyce

  5. Mark William Jackson permalink
    January 13, 2010 2:34 am

    That is terribly sad, as parents we do hand over our lives as soon as children are born, we give them our hearts to hold until the end of our days. Happy birthday to you, all the best for the impending 50.

  6. January 15, 2010 3:52 am

    Wow, I as just a fresh new mommy feel the same way. Happy Birthday by the way!

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