....and many happy returns
He had just celebrated,
with kindred friends and spirits
The guests now gone
and one could hear
the squeaking of his rocking chair
accompanied by birds,
who, in the tropics, sing at night
as well, it set the stage
for melancholy reminiscence
about the crossroads he had reached
where spectators just stood,
observing him with friendly faces
and the benevolence of man.
The specialist had said 'you will be fine',
though using neutral words to intimate
that things were in control,
that modern medicine would win
with weapons like FU, his special chemo.
There was a climate that surrounded
and pampered him, as if to say
'because we like you, Jim, you'll be okay.'
And so, there was no need to fret,
to get some order into his affairs.
He looked again at the physician's card,
with HAPPY BIRTHDAY in fluorescent letters.
He read the text again, but searched,
in vain for what was old tradition:
Returns, the many happy ones!
It was not there, perhaps an oversight?
A shadow crossed his tired face
when from within a voice sang out,
it told him what he knew to be
the truth, that this would be his very last.
Herbert Nehrlich's Other Poems
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