[Poetry Friday] In Celebration of Life

poetry friday

Iphigene here.

Today, I turn a year older. This post is up by magic of scheduled posts while I celebrate my birthday in silence, away from the world and in a retreat house.

I have never been a fan of my own birthday. I share it with my father and him having lived a longer life, would often have a big celebration and I would be the extra. I often celebrated my birthday with people who were not my friends. Too introverted to enjoy parties, I was grateful enough to have that big ‘October-celebrants’ birthday party somewhere in the month.

As I grew older, celebrating my birthday felt less and less important in the context of parties. These days my birthday would go by without much hurrah but with much solitude. In the past few years, I would take a leave from work and go out with myself in celebration of my life. Often this celebration included a ritual of gratefulness for the life I have lived and a prayer for the strength to live another year.

I carry these thoughts as I wrote the poem I’m sharing today. I ruminate over life and the deep joy the comes in living it through the ups and downs. I hope you enjoy the poem and my fairly recent painting. For more poetry, do check out the round up at MsMac of Check it out!

In Surrender to Vastness (Acrylic on Canvas)  Painting by Author

In Surrender to Vastness (Acrylic on Canvas)
Painting by Author

In Celebration of Life

by Iphigene

Birth
As life lays open in the first cry
Stillness-
A reverence offered to a miracle
Naked, whole and innocent

In surrender,
Upon the bosom of refuge
Creation sighs in the magic
No science can demystify

Trust
Easily given in the
Grasp of tiny hands
Around big callused fingers

Like a little prayer
Fervently whispered
For love unconditional
And care unwavering

Death
As life lays open in the last breath
Stillness—
A reverence offered to mortality
Naked, broken and lived

In surrender,
Upon the arms of creation
The living weep at the loss
Science cannot ease

Trust
Easily given in the
Grasp of fragile thin fingers
Around strong callused hands

Like a little prayer
Fervently whispered
For love unconditional
And joy unwavering.

  1. Happy Birthday!! Hope your day is peaceful and content and just the way you want it 🙂 I particularly like “Creation sighs in the magic/No science can demystify”

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    1. Hi Tabatha,
      Thank you. I had a wonderful time, it was definitely peaceful.
      I always found child birth as magical, despite our knowledge of fertilization, conception and birth, the idea of participating in creation will always have a magical element to it.

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  2. I’m a birthday girl this week also. It is a quiet time spent with family for me. Not lots of hoopla, though this year all siblings came.
    I love your poem. I’ve been giving myself time to ponder the difference between my body and my soul lately. Sometimes I think my 4 year old grandson has it right when he looks at his hands and thanks them for doing something or trying really hard! “no science can demystify”, “science cannot ease” – two very powerful phrases. Loved the repetitive structure, too. This is an amazing piece. Thanks for sharing, and have a wondrous birthday!

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    1. Belated Happy Birthday Donna!
      I am glad you enjoyed the repetitive structure. I feel that the beginning and end of life share so much similarity and felt a need to show that. Also, while i feel science can explain things, facts does not make an experience any less magical or painful. Science would never be enough in demystifying such deep human experiences.

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  3. Happy birthday, dear Iphegene. Isn’t it wonderful to reach that point when you know what you need (a quiet birthday at the retreat house) and can give yourself that gift? I remember so well when my children were born and met their father: “Grasp of fragile thin fingers/ Around strong callused hands.”

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    1. Thank you Laura.
      I love how you picked up the parent child relationship in the images of hands, because that was on my mind when i constructed the whole poem.

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  4. Happy, Happy birthday!!!! Your poem is (literally) breathtaking. I definitely need to re-read/appreciate more/ponder…On the lighter side, since we share a philosophizing streak, I offer this (consoling) thought. Not to worry. You didn’t turn a year older today–no, just 24 hours older. …On one particular milestone birthday, I mused–till it hurt my head–if there were a way to avoid living that day by hovering around the correct side of the International Dateline. …Never did figure that out…Anyway, what’s the use…Now, back to the serious side…. First, what an amazing blessing with 365 possible days to be born to be born on the same day, years later, as your father! Like you, I was never a fan of my own birthday, and being lactose-intolerant, but not knowing it or why ice cream and whipped cream made me sick, I was the only kid who didn’t eat the whipped cream birthday cake at my parties, or anyone else’s. Good for you to put aside your own feelings to honor your dad. Once I became a mother, I finally understood why birthdays are important to parents. From that time on, I gave my mother a gift on my birthday–for myself, I still didn’t want to celebrate it. …Speaking of which, we have something else in common: we’re both October babies…Since a couple of other PF members mentioned having birthdays this month also, I wonder if there is a poetry pull among Oct. babies… Enough! God bless you. Enjoy your very special day. Thank you for being you, and for sharing you and your beautiful, deep thoughts with us!

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    1. Thank you for the greeting. Happy Birthday to you too! Yes, it seems many from the PF community are October babies.
      I am entering that phase in my life where I see life as a whole. The drama is gone and all we have are given and choices. I ponder about these things a lot and poetry has always been a way for me to think out loud, to bring into concreteness my thoughts. I am glad that while I do my thinking out loud with poetry, people like you appreciate it. Thank you for sharing those bits of family story.

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      1. Thank you so very much for putting into beautiful words–prose and poetry– things I think, but don’t have voice to express. God bless you!

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  5. Happy Birthday, Iphigene. We just celebrated both a birth and a death this past week. Your poem touches me deeply. I am an October birthday person, too! I still enjoy celebrating with family, but the joy of life is the important thing, whether alone or in a group, agreed. Your painting is marvelous, the sky beautifully done, a hard thing to do! Enjoy your retreat, every minute.

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Thank you. I am glad this poem resonated with you and found you at the same time you celebrated life and death. I have always been fascinated with these two life events as they feel connected and similar. Happy birthday to you! I’m loving how many of the Poetry Friday community are October babies.
      I am re-learning to paint and I am glad you found the sky beautiful. It’s one of the first challenges I wanted to take on.
      I had a wonderful retreat. Thanks again

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  6. Lovely celebration of life, Iphigene. And I’m happy to hear you’re celebrating your birthday in a way that speaks to you (I’m all for ignoring mine for the past several years…)

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    1. Hi Buffy. Thank you. I think its becoming less about celebrating externally and more on celebrating internally—through reflection and introspection.

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  7. Happy Birthday! I hope you had a lovely, quiet day!

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  8. HB!! You’re right in your poem, science doesn’t always explain the magic and mystery. Great poem!

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    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. Science can ‘demystify’ things by providing us with facts but it doesn’t take away the wonder, magic and emotion that comes from deep human experiences.

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      1. Definitely not! And it shouldn’t strip all the joy and mystery of life away.

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  9. That last stanza was so powerful – happy birthday, Iphigene, and much happiness!

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    1. Thank you Tara. The last stanza took a while to be created. But I realize joy is something that we attain in time and maturity and it allows us to celebrate despite the grief in our life.

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  10. Gorgeous poem, Iphigene! It hits all the right notes of life. And happy birthday! I’m a fellow October birthday folk – I love your idea of a celebration, solitude and gratitude. =)

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    1. Thank you Bridget. Happy Birthday to you too!
      I find that as I started to get older, I enjoy the quietness of celebrating the life given me. I struggled over the idea of living, but now, I am grateful I am alive. 🙂

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  11. Happy [Belated] Birthday! Great poem! 😀

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