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Image by Leslie Chappell

On My 67th Birthday

I cooked oatmeal on the stove,
not the microwave. Spooned brown sugar
and blueberries on top.

A breakfast my mother often made me,
most memorably on visits home 
from my first year of college.

On my birthday, she baked apple pie,
a treat I still prefer to the vanilla
frosted cake my husband used to buy.

He never tasted my mother’s pie—
the crunch of ground nuts sprinkled 
between the fruit and the crust,
just for me, the way I liked it. 

In Mom’s honor, I made oatmeal this morning
and bought apple pie for tonight.

Maybe I’ll drive to the beach
in between. Watch the waves
for a while. Think about
loving myself the way she loved me. 

The Day You Were Born

The day arrives and marks the age 
you would have been. The birthday 
you would have celebrated. Perhaps 
at your favorite Brazilian steak house, 
thanking waiters for endless slices 
of marinated meat.

Remember the year you turned thirty,
how we strolled through Times Square?
Bought a bright blue mug, 16 ounce size
for your morning brew.

The same one I’m sipping right now—
rescued from your kitchen
when I emptied your tiny apartment.

My hands cup the warm ceramic
as the sun beams through
the kitchen window 
in long gentle fingers 
closing my eyes.

I will always be grateful 
for the day you were born.

Dearest Wish

Imagine learning a child thought dead is not.

It’s the dream of every grieving parent, 
found in Genesis when an elderly Jacob 
embraces his son Joseph again.

Having seen his child alive,
after years of mourning his death
Jacob declares that now he can die,
his dearest wish has been granted.

Even though I as a reader 
knew all along that Jacob was deceived 
and Joseph wasn’t dead, I cry.

Because I understand what it means 
to live year after year with a loss 
saturating every silence, and a longing 
only quenched in Genesis 
when an elderly Jacob embraces 
the child he thought lost forever.

Jacqueline Jules is the author of Manna in the Morning (Kelsay Books, 2021), Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press, and Smoke at the Pentagon: Poems to Remember (Bushel & Peck, 2023). Her poetry has appeared in over 100 publications. Visit www.jacquelinejules.com


  1. Anonymous

    Always heart-warming and reflective, Jackie. I just listened to an interview of a children’s author whose favorite poet is Mary Oliver. You are my favorite poet.

  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous is me, Beth Schmelzer.

  3. Anonymous

    Thoughtful and rich in meaning; beautifully presented.


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