It's not my mother's birthday, but I just opened this present: a birthday poem from my father to my mother, recently discovered in his papers.

(This was written before my third sister and I were born.)

"To Jackie"
July 6, 1954

She walks in beauty through the night
A loving, kindly type, hers,
A gossamer, majestic sight
Changing sloppy diapers.

At Six A.M. her tapered hands
So artistic and so pink
Take on the hue of burning sand
As they float in the kitchen sink.

Her rosy cheeks become aglow
That might please a painter most,
For by half past six her loved ones know
She's started cooking toast.

Her raven locks enfold her face
Like a beautician's dream,
And at seven sharp she speeds her pace
At darling Patty's scream.

It's little Kitty next in charge
Of summoning this beauty,
And then her smile is gay and large
So much she loves her duty.

They wash and brush with doors closed tight,
But the silence isn't sad,
It's just that all fear that they might
Wake up their loving Dad.

And when at last Dad hears the din
Of bird songs light and gay
This beauty, who was Jackie Fihn,
Whispers, "WAKE, bum, it's my birthday!!"

My Inheritance
As time wears on, it grows: his closet of fine suits, his game of tennis, his ear for iambic pentameter….