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← Birthday Poems

For Olivia, on Your 11th Birthday

by Morgan S. Grether

There’s nothing better than the human heart.

The driving, rolling passions moving us

To write a poem, to sing, to reach the moon,

To move a mountain (or at least to pull

A steamship over one like in a film

I love so much called Fitzcarraldo). We dance.

We laugh. We bend and break. Collapse. Endure.

A man without a heart’s a mannequin.

There’s pain in life; embrace it, yes. There’s joy

Beyond joy, if you let it, if you dare

To open up your heart and feel the flames

That glow inside. A little sun within

Us. Yes, it burns you sometimes, but it gives

You warmth. A life in ice is not a life

At all. Be warm instead and melt the ice

And wax. Be human, in all our dazzling downs

And ups and shimmerings in between. You’ll hear

Folks telling you to stifle it, to push

It down, repress it all. They’re wrong. They’ll say:

"She is 11 now, almost a teen,

Almost a drama bomb, almost a wild,

Annoying, sassy monster.” But again,

They’re wrong. I say that finally your life

Is starting; finally the craziness,

The swerving rollercoaster-bumper cars

Of happiness, confusion, anguish, angst,

This cornucopia called grown-up life

Is starting. And it can’t be stopped. Embrace

It. Laugh. Cry. Dance. Scream. Climb a mountain. Reach

Your fingers up and scratch at the moon. You’re alive.

You’re loved. You are 11. You’re alive.

Composed: May 2015