One Poem: Birthdays by Philip Ivory

Birthdays—-                                                                              Philip Ivory

You can celebrate your birthday in many ways:
You can lie in your cot with puckered face
While outside open-top trams clang down to the centre
And your father bikes with a rose to the mother and child;
You can be treated to creamy cakes at the end of the war
And reject them, they’re too rich for a stomach
Bred on dried egg and wheat-flakes like cardboard;
You can jump a few years and be a naval rating
Out drinking beer with his mates at a succession
Of crowded bars in a German sea-town,
Later to be assisted aboard the homeward bus,
Staring at the stars.

You can mark the day as time and mood see fit:
This year I sit in this exam room considering the frowning faces
Of solemn girls crouched over creaking desks;
Whispers around the room implore me for tissues
For more paper and quiet explanations of knotty points;
Tonight we are going out to eat at a little place in the Good Food Guide
Where you have to book a day in advance
For the privilege of eating small amounts, beautifully cooked,
With plenty of elbow room.


Written …………. June 2 1977


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