Sharing a birthday with Billy Collins

Rather than thinking ill of the dead—
people whose birthdays are spent,
despite the occasional Google banner
tugging at the dusty bones of their feet
and pulling paper hats over their crowns—

rather than thinking ill of anyone,
I wonder what Rilke wore in military school.
Red, yellow, blue or green?
Because the photos are black and white
his buttons, whether brass or silver,

will glow white like a moon that wishes
me good night and then greets me
in the morning, as she did this morning;
as she will greet others when twelve hours
have pulled their way across the oceans.


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