April 12, 2016

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Poetry Postcard 43: Happy Birthday, Robbie!

I am skipping ahead to Poetry Postcard 43. Why? To wish a happy 16th birthday to our son and eldest child, Robbie.

Robbie and cousin Caspian (age 1). All you parents
of teen boys know, photos of the kid are not
easy to come by. Most of them look like this:
because teenage boys are
masters at the art of avoiding photographs.
Remember "How not to be seen?"
I wish my scanner were working this morning so I could show you what a cute baby he was, and how the nurses put Valentines in his hospital bassinet.

I was planning to write an occasional poem for Valentine’s Day today. I had a vintage Valentine’s postcard all set. (Thanks for the donation, Linda Baie!)

But my poetry gut got all tingly when I read what was printed on the back of the card: THIS SIDE FOR CORRESPONDENCE.

A few weeks after I started the Poetry Postcard Project, I took an old mini-album off the bookshelf. Instead of photographs, we’ve kept years of postcards in the album’s sleeves.

Some of the postcards date to before Rob and I married, 1991. The most recent cards date from the late 2000s. They come from all over the U.S. and several countries. They were sent to us by friends and family.

Postcards sent from (clockwise) Aruba, Hawaii, Tennessee, and Australia.

Reading through the messages on the cards, I was surprised that many go beyond the standard “Wish you were here,” sentiment. Some are funny. Some are lyrical. Others refer to specific events in our lives.

Guided by the phrase, “This Side for Correspondence,” I began pulling sentences and greetings from various postcards into a found poem. It wasn’t until I read a mention of Robbie’s impending birth that the theme of my poem came together. That focus allowed me to figure out which pieces of the poem would stay and what could go.

This Side for Correspondence:
Postcards “Found” on My Son’s 16th Birthday

Dear Ones,
Greetings from Aruba.
We are alive & well.
The food is good. So glad
we are here, but miss you.
It’s really as beautiful here
as the picture depicts.
Balmy breezes, the smell
of jasmine in the evening.
The way people
get still and quiet
watching the sun setting.
There are a lot
of cranky babies here.
You sure you want
to go through with this?

Laura Shovan

And here are the cards I borrowed from, sent from my brother Jason Dickson, friends Jenna and Ron Olson, and two from my mother, Pauline Dickson. Thanks for helping me out on this one, gang!

"So glad we are here. But miss you."

"Dear Ones... Balmy breezes, the smell of jasmine in the evening,
the way people get still & quiet watching the sun setting."

"It's really as beautiful here as the picture depicts...
There are a lot of cranky babies here --
you sure you want to go through with this?"

"We are alive & well.... The food is good."
I like the way the stillness my mother wrote about from Hawaii balances with my friend Jenna's half-joking concerns about the potentially cranky baby on his way to us. (You can read the postcard poem written for my daughter's birthday here.)

Robbie is already thinking ahead to college, so I'm going to enjoy these birthdays while he is still at home. I am looking forward to Robbie's favorite things tonight: pizza and a rich chocolate cake. If I'm lucky, I'll get a hug. And maybe a photograph.

Postcard Information:



Windy City Mom said...

I wasn't wrong about babies being cranky! :p Though I really should have put something in there about the lack of sleep in the early years.

Windy City Mom said...

I should have put something in there about sleep deprivation!

Tabatha said...

Happy Birthday, Robbie! That's a great photo of him with his cousin. I love your postcard album idea -- I wish I had done that a long time ago!
I also love that you have a poetry gut that gets tingly :-) Enjoy the cake!

Anonymous said...

My son was born on Valentine's Day. He would have liked me to have pushed a little harder, so his birthday could be Friday the 13th.
Debbie Annen

Author Amok said...

Hi, Jenna. Robbie was definitely a great source of sleep deprivation. Thank goodness our second kid was (still is) a better sleeper.

Thanks, Tabatha. The old cards are fun to look through. I think people stopped writing postcards from their vacations when it became so easy to upload to Facebook from a phone.

Debbie -- Happy birthday to your son one day early. Robbie shares a birthday with my sister in law. I love them both to pieces. It's a good day to be born.

Linda B said...

Happy Birthday to your son, Laura. It is lovely to be sixteen, I'm sure. I'm happy you shared the card, but I love your poem, the story behind it and the way the lines came together so beautifully. Although we've kept a lot, none were as organized as yours. Your poem seems doubly special since the lines are history, and Robbie is making history today! Enjoy the cake!