Exultations for this Life I Pretend is Difficult

I’ll begin with you, rain.

Praise you for quenching the earth

despite our parades and our weddings.

And you, dead cell phone,

for your stubborn silence

in this age of glorified babble.

Praise the city that sleeps!

Train screeching to a halt

half past midnight, screaming

You do not live in New York!

Therefore you will be forced to walk

from Cambridge to Jamaica Plain tonight!

You will be forced to stand on the Harvard Bridge

over the Charles drunk with your best friend

and watch the iridescent moon compete

with the garish Citgo sign and win.

Praise the hair in my drain

reminding me I do not live alone.

And the constant yowling

of our deaf cat, proof

that she is still living

and making a nuisance.

(We are all such nuisances to each other sometimes,

and it is lovely to have people

and cats to complain about.)

Praise the parts of us we shed:

dead skin cells, fingernails,

the schoolyard nickname that never fit.

Praise the parts that remain:

muscles clinging to our bones,

wingless ankles

our relentless messenger hearts

always racing towards something,

like one person might be finish line.

Like the myth of the first marathon runner,

Pheidippedes, who reached Athens

panting and heaving and cried: We have won!

then collapsed to the ground and died.

I have loved like that,

and I have lived.

Praise any brave act that does not martyr us,

the courage it takes sometimes just to say hello.


My first meal at a “nice” restaurant

was junior prom.  When the waiter

brought the basket of warm rolls

my twin sister raved, she gasped

at the glassware, exclaimed

over each fancy fork

and everyone chuckled

while I folded my napkin in silence.

(I am not sure what part of the world

taught me and not her

that it is shameful

to be amazed by everything.)

May I never be so rich I forget the grass.

May I never be so loud I forget to listen

to each brave breath stitching the world

like threads sewn by beginners’ hands,

Praise the uneven hem.

The strength of the tiniest knot.

Praise any torn and ragged cloth

that warms me.