Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Reading the Morning Paper

Used to be I read the news

—paper spread across the kitchen table

folded down to a manageable size

to make room for possibilities

and a cup of coffee with whoever

rolled out of bed to join me

folding histories to handle tragedy

yet get on with the day

taking surreptitious pleasure

in avoiding a glamourous life

flipping through pages of car adverts

sports statistics and the stock market

as if rambunctious numbers, horse power

and wheels formed a mysterious gruff world

for data-armed men whiskered and clean shaven

who later posed weaponless in marriage and birth

announcements, then, at the end the obituaries

of all the beloveds, pages and pages of peaceful

people whose demise spawned mourners

to consider the person, not their things.

None of the obituaries read, “So-and-so

died surrounded by countless belongings

of which survivors must now

rid themselves as their own possessions

are jealous gods.”

 'At Breakfast' (1898) by Laurits Andersen Ring; 
National Museum, Stockholm (public domain)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Starling My Darling

As dusk settled around our suburban nest

after dinner we’d leave the mess of our desks

to walk with our children to the park or next door

and visit with neighbors, talk some more

about research and relatives and what’s local news

—the usual banter that kept us amused.

The sidewalks had cracks with heaved up cement

from rootlets of trees by sublets for rent.

Our neighbors were playwrights, professors, nurses and maids

elders, young students, rabbis cheerful and staid

some worked at home, others played.

Yet at dusk our jobs for a moment left us

as fireflies twinkled joy invictus.

The children would a-giggle leave bikes on the ground

run to catch the magical bugs they found.

Shadows lengthened their laughter, unbound our day

from restless worries and dismay.

As the heavens settled in crepuscular peace

friendly shades danced dark from every leaf

of a tree filled with a constellation of birds

who burst into song. We would smile when we heard

The Singing Tree give voice with none deferred.

Our youngest asked if they were quarreling.

That’s just how starlings say I love you, my darling.

photo from public domain