Happy Birthday, Sherwood Smith!

So, you are as old as your tongue
and a little older that your teeth —
while your hair and nails
have their independent life
measured in dog-years.

And you are as old as the prophecies
you still have to fulfil,
as old as the riddles
you haven’t deciphered,
as old as your dreams.

And you are as old as the dawn
as the shifting summerlight
as the rainswept morning,
as old and as new and as freshlaid
as a baby laughing at fairies.

And you are as old as you feel,
twelve, and twenty-four, and ninety-six,
all jostling together from moment to moment,
seventeen dancing, and forty-five knowing
and a hundred and three getting out of a bad chair.

And you are sixty this morning,
but you didn’t know how to be nine either
not when you first started,
so you found the words and went on,
because you are as old as your tongue.

28th May 2011