Note: For those of you who couldn't make it to the Northfield Arts Guild this evening for the special reading in honor of the NAG's 50th anniversary, here's the poem I wrote for the occasion.
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Northfield Arts Guild
Unless, like Nicolas Copernicus,
it happens to be your birthday,
no one celebrates February 19th,
the fiftieth day of the year.
Fifty is ordinary, not golden
(the atomic number of tin)
and not even as old as it once was:
fifty, we are told, is the new thirty.
Sure, fifty has some interesting
it’s the smallest sum
of two squares in two different ways—
but fifty percent is still only half:
a failing grade on any scale.
So I suppose what we celebrate,
after all, is not completion,
but the brief moment of equipoise
and everything that falls on either side—
so much putting up and taking down;
so many rehearsals,
the striking of so many sets;
so many lumps of clay,
so many empty bowls to fill.
What matters most in this poem
may be the word “unless,”
or it may be the shape of the whole—
the performance, the painting in its frame,
the bowl that you fill
with whatever part of yourself
you offer to the experience of art.
Or the most important part
may be what happens next,
when the poem supposedly ends,
and there is still so much more to say.