Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Poem - Happiness

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Jane Kenyon
(from The Breath of Parted Lips: Voices
From the Robert Frost Place


Sky said...

oh, dear jane! her lovely and much needed words touch me today as i head out to the medical research campus where she got her stem cell transplant many years ago. i will look out upon lake washington as she and don did each day when she was there. i am always reminded of them when i am in that area.

thank you for posting this and reminding me that darkness is never permanent.

Lil said...

this is just great...and hopeful!


Anonymous said...

I do enjoy Jane Kenyon so much. She lives on my bookshelf next to Donald Hall.

Sky said...

oops, sorry...i said lake washington, but what i meant was lake union. i realized it today when i caught myself saying it wrong again. we had dinner on lake washington recently, and i have had lake washington on my mind, i guess!

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