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,
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.