from INSIGHT OUT by Ellen Azorin

BIRTHDAYS

At what age do we stop wishing
we were
older
and start wishing
we were
younger?
Is there some signpost
that signals this moment in life?
Birthdays are monumental
at age one, two, three. . .
The anticipation of
candles, cakes and kisses,
all the fuss
around us,
creates an aura of excitement
starting with bedtime the night before,
and all through that artificially special day.
Years pass, and we mark the rites of passage:
twelve turns into the teen of "thirteen".
Sixteen is sweet.
Eighteen and twenty-one are empowering.
The twenties hold no terror.
But there comes a year
(when was that year?)
a dark day indeed,
when we realize we're celebrating
a downward trend.
I've always marveled at celebrations of aging.
A gala 50th birthday.
The gathered clan at 80.
The young toasting 90
as an accomplishment.
I've never achieved
that degree of acceptance,
that existential peace
some people reach.
What recipe results
in that birthday cake
upon which any number of candles
can sit and be lit
with a smile?

©Ellen Azorin

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