Letter to a Daughter on Her 17th Birthday
It's strange to think of you today,
17 years after you arrived.
That was such a long day.
Judy came to the hospital.
Terry Jones shuffled off on your 17th birthday.
Two down, four to go said John C, missing Graham and Terry.
“You are not messiah, you are a naughty, naughty boy.”
And we watched old Flying Circus Episodes.
Honk Honk, two more hard boiled eggs, you always liked the funny guys,
Your word for the Marx Brothers.
17 years ago.
War was brewing yet that didn’t stop you from arriving,
Always being there when I got home from a demo.
Or when Keith died and we walked through Brooklyn Heights,
Or when Renee shuffled off with the hurricane in Florida.
She’s up in the clouds, I told you as we walked on the beach.
When your kid turns 17 you have to look at what you made happen,
First time I yelled you broke out in tears.
Way too many tears.
Way too many screams.
Renee took care of you on Fridays when Mom was working.
Making you giggle for hours.
In some ways, you inherited her Dresden jitters,
A little nervous splendor.
So much beauty.
As Renee was leaving
Your sister was coming.
There she goes here he comes.
She arrived on the anniversary of Judy Garland’s departure in 1969
As the riots were gripping the streets,
While people in Coney Island celebrated the birth of the Cyclone.
Violence and hope,
Fun and sartorial splendor, your birthright.
I played you Queen record after Queen record.
Your sister laughed on the cyclone’s bumps.
You wouldn’t go on.
Demo after demo you attended,
Inheriting the chaos of what is,
Carrying a bit of what was,
As your life is a testament to what will be.
The wars, the chaos, the global culture,
Tokyo where you were everything.
I’m so sorry I couldn’t solve more of the problems for you,
Or leave you something more than
A government in a mess.
A climate crisis.
Rising tides and receding democracy from Brazil to the USA.
Life could be beautiful, but it isn’t Lilly Tomlin used to say.
I implore you to live as Anne F lived.
Think of all the beauty still left around you,
She scrawled in her journal.
Keep on writing that journal, about all that is, all the nightmares and hopes,
And bass players, and bands, and Cannibal Girls.
Dodi S on the move.
Fractured mirrors broke her spirit.
Playing that drum.
Leading on bass.
The camera loves you darling.
Thank you for joining us,
All those years ago.
Glad you are still around in your cowgirl T shirt,
with your frizzled red hair, eyeliner and a smile.
Happy birthday gorgeous.
Happy birthday gorgeous.