Notes on my Birthday for a Poem

Twenty-eight years old and still myself, Needing no memory of distant events to remind me of my ability and my foolishness, Still wanting what I didn’t have at twenty and not for the first time sure of what I am. World, where have you been? I was lonely and where were you?—Needlessly cold, I say. You didn’t have to be so contrary, and so unpredictable. I wanted a friendship that would change only as I change, that wouldn’t, like you, change with every sense of what you are. I suppose it’s true that what one knows at twenty-eight puts what one knew at twenty in an embarrassing perspective. I suppose it’s true that love and happiness and also pain and loneliness are temporary delusions, delusions of age. But I also suppose that truth is something only temporarily supposed. World, I call upon you to justify me. There’s no one else but me to do it and I’ve already tried, with only partial success. Speak or make a sign to tell me that I have a soul, that I have a soul and that it’s not yours, that it’s not yours and that it’s not, like yours, never where I thought it would be.

26 February 1980