On the Birth of a Friend’s Child

Like the rumble under a river
    the dead hear looking up
suddenly and like the beehive
    roar of sighs every word
just barely is able to contain

ten thousand years of life
    inside us quietly every day
remain. Like the sea-sway
    green of waves without end
and the vertical plunge of miles

darkening down, this limitless
    is comes on when you finally
listen in. I’m nearly halfway
    to death and still may turn
and go the other way.  Watch!

Child, we are not here to stay
    and you don’t seem to care.
That is what I admire about you.
    You say giddy-up to the day.
You laugh and laugh and you

have no idea about rivers, sorrow
    or the sea and you don’t
know me and that is for the best.
    I’m a downer. Ask your parents.
We are friends. Child, we are guests.


Steve Scafidi is the author of Sparks from a Nine-Pound Hammer (Louisiana State University Press, 2001), For Love of Common Words (LSU 2006), The Cabinetmaker’s Window (LSU 2014), To the Bramble and the Briar (University of Arkansas Press, 2014) and a chapbook Songs for the Carry-On (Q Avenue Press, 2013). He has won the Larry Levis Reading Prize, the James Boatwright Prize and the Miller Williams Prize.  His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and he has taught most recently in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. He works as a cabinetmaker and lives with his family in Summit Point, West Virginia.