By MICHAEL PERKINS
BIRTHDAYS. Glibly speaking, ya can’t live without ’em.
Thing is, after a while they don’t come alone. More and more, they show up accompanied by echoes. Ghosts. Remains and remnants. And the guest lists of Things That Were that trundle alongside all those birthdays often focus on buildings, structures that are barometers of where we started out and where we wound up.
The image above was taken within days of this year’s natal anniversary, and put me in mind of one of the most eloquent musings ever on the subject of loss from singer–songwriter Judy Collins. Looking at this sad, sagging house, I could clearly hear her singing:
My grandmother’s house is still there, but it isn’t the same
A plain wooden cottage, a patch of brown lawn
And a fence that hangs standing and sighing in the Seattle rain
I drive by with strangers and wish they could see what I see
A tangle of summer birds flying in sunlight
A forest of lilies, an orchard of apricot trees
Secret gardens of the heart
Where the flowers bloom forever
I see you shining through the night
In the ice and snow of winter