Meditation On My 44th Birthday

By Jason Irwin

Before going for a walk, I open the day’s newspaper.
NASA releases detailed photos of Charon,
Pluto’s largest moon. In a marketplace in Diyala Province, Iraq,
a suicide bomber kills one hundred and twenty.
On this day in 1959, Billie Holiday died
handcuffed to her hospital bed. My horoscope
tells me I will be extremely serious and earnest
in my emotions, that I will suffer
from the ailments of birds.

                                        Hard to believe half of my life
is just some thing that used to be.

On my walk I stop at the corner of Maple
and Elm, watch the sun sink behind the station,
I think about Charon, orbiting Pluto, and the Charon
who ferried the souls of the dead to the underworld. Maybe
he delivered the people killed in the marketplace,
or Lady Day. Instead of a coin for passage
she sang Baby why stop and cling to some fading
thing that used to be. Her lilting voice trailing off
as they reached the far shore.

Jason Irwin is the author of the three collections of poetry: The History of Our Vagrancies (Main Street Rag), A Blister of Stars (Low Ghost, 2016), Watering the Dead (Pavement Saw Press, 2008), & the chapbook Some Days It’s A Love Story (Slipstream Press, 2005). He has also had nonfiction published in IO Literary Journal, Cleaver Magazine, & The Crux. He grew up in Dunkirk, NY, and now lives in Pittsburgh.

Originally published in NOR 22.

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