Today’s remarkable vision: a woman in her bridal dress Walking purposefully along the street. This was enough Of an amazing sight by itself, but the determined stride, The intent look, her I am going someplace, and I am not Worrying about how I look, even though I know you are All looking attitude—that got me. I mean, of course you Wonder where she was going, and where she came from, And why she is alone, and if this is a just little aberrance In an otherwise tightly plotted day, or if she was hustling To catch the bus, and where is the entourage you usually See flanking a bride, the cheerful best friends, the joyous But slightly jealous sisters although they would never say Such a thing even to each other after a few bottles of beer At the reception, or even perhaps the groom, where is he? I was caught in traffic and sped right along and only later Did I think should I have stopped, and offered her a ride? I mean, what if she was hustling to the actual ceremony? What if her Ford broke down and the groom was forlorn? But I have a lovely bride of my own, and I am on the one Bride per groom plan, which I renew every morning with A deep and amazed glee, so I hope the bride on the street Made it to wherever it was she was headed, or whomever. The whomever is a lucky soul, seems to me—a bride who Has the panache to stroll along unconcernedly even as she Knows full well folks are gaping; that’s a bride with brass.
I am told to be grateful as I wake each morning wrapped in the unfolding blanket of dawn, shake off the moon, dying stars, and taste the beige-gray breath of incipient day.
Grateful to whom or what? To the rain that coats the pavement with its timid sheen, the birds’ silence in the settling damp, the bodies of neighbors rising, reluctant, in boxes of houses that line the street with woe and weariness?
Let me drink strong coffee, toast my bread with dailiness, uncurl myself to a day lit only by a hidden sun. I might have been rich or famous, cured cancer, saved the world. For now, let me watch butter melt as a golden flower.
The birds are singing their feathers off, the grass is on its way to being greener, so green it’s almost blinding, and the sun has lit the top of the hill in front of the hill where the sun is rising. You see, I live in an underworld, it’s beautiful and strange, but you must be careful in an underworld— it’s not for everyone, the light is funny, the shadows are almost backwards; in the morning and then at dusk, it’s easy to think I’m living upside down. Sometimes I do, regrettably, but that’s a human thing, and being in a kind of underworld is good for understanding the human thing. It’s also, weirdly, good for God, it puts you in the mind of God. I mean, some mornings you cannot stop yourself from looking around and being convinced there is a God who made the world and I am living in it. There must be something good in that. One of my duties is to speak of joy—in the face of everything against it. I’m speaking of it now.
Walked out to the car this morning to find a small brown Bird deceased on the windshield. A young song sparrow, Neither naked gawky nestling nor chesty feathered elder; A sort of a teenager, I guess. Cause of death not instantly Evident, nor did I spend time determining its gender; no, My brain got stuck on the teenager part. It’s so fearsome, Being a teenager. Everything is ten times louder. They’re Braver and stupider than any three older people; they are Three people, most of the time. This is discombobulating In the extreme. But we have no sympathy for them. We’d Prefer to forget we were them; we deny that we ever were. You know we do. If we wrote our histories we would skip From twelve to twenty, from generally bucolic childhood, At least fitfully, at least while finding refuge from trouble, To beginner older idiocy, which itself takes a decade or so. We get so impatient with teenagers. We want them to leap Past stupid. But stupid is a great teacher, isn’t it? Flailing At least teaches you what alleys to avoid, if at all possible. We have no mercy on them but they are in a thunderstorm, And probably it seems like it will never end, and we whine That they are wet yet again even after we advised as re wet. And how wet we were too, brothers and sisters, how moist And soaked and sopping and bedraggled we were, not even Fully feathered at the time, trying to figure out how to soar, And where to soar, and who, if anyone, would soar with us; And if we were blessed we had parents, maybe parents who Loved us even, but so often they just stood and sermonized As we fell out of the nest, frightened and thrilled and lonely.