St. Valentine's lament

A long time ago there was a bookstore in our town called Collected Works. They had a great author program, and we saw people from local to national celebrities read there: Donald Hall, Colum McCann, Frances Moore Lappé, Verandah Porche, Wynn Cooper. The Colum McCann reading in particular was memorable because later that night I saw him stumbling into a bar declaiming Philip Larkin's "This Be the Verse." That's exactly what I thought published authors should be doing.

Anyway, at the height of their literary influence, Collected Works held a "Valentine's Poem" contest. I'm thinking for Valentine's Day 1996. I knew that I wanted to write a poem called "The Moon Over Birge Street," but the words didn't come to me until 2011. Collected Works was long gone, and I'd just heard a Gillian Welch interview on "Fresh Air." At that moment, my 1996 Valentine's Day poem finally coalesced in my mind. I like to sing it as a twangy folk number.

The Moon Over Birge Street

If I was pregnant when we parted
We would have a child
Two years of age
Four months five days
If I was pregnant when we parted
We would have a child by now.

He would not know you
And I wouldn't too
I don't know you now
Or I would know how
We could have parted
We could have parted at all.

And the moon over Birge Street
It just bears down
And the moon over Birge Street
In the slow frozen night
And the moon over Birge Street
It just bears down on me.

I heard she has given you
Two of your own
Two of your own
And one is two years old
Is it true she has given you
Two of your own by now.

Drinking in the kitchen
Smoking in the yard
Singing this song
It still seems hard
That we should be parted
That we should be parted at all.

And the moon over Birge Street
Bears down on me
And the moon over Birge Street
On Valentine's Day
And the moon over Birge Street
It just bears down on me.

2 comments:

ValleyWriter said...

Very moving - I'd say it was worth the wait.

"Prof. Kitty" said...

Thank you VW!