This is the 71st of my "Letters to a Poet."
On Being Alive
It is a puzzlement, isn't it?
To be still living, to be still here:
an unwieldy top-heavy grace
a thrown-together pile of books
which someone hands to you unexpectedly
and which you must carry
without letting the stack tumble
noisily to the floor.
How have I made it
nearly to fifty?
I should be grateful:
without this life, this breath,
I wouldn't know Arlington,
the lovely suburb I call home,
I wouldn't know the consolation
of having a friend like you,
I wouldn't know the bliss
of a day of moderate heat in summer
with rock-bottom dew-point,
a foretaste of October.
But this gift
is like the neighbour's cat,
Pickwick, Blanche's friend,
who peeks in on me
as I'm saying my beads
with the porch door open
at quarter to five in the morning.
I'm a little nervous around her.
She gets skittish, too.
I mean, we get along well enough
when we move smoothly around each other:
we do not cherish the unpredictability
of lurches, of jerky movement.
Of course, there are nice surprises
which I can't forget about,
that sweeten a day or a week.
Just yesterday, I bumped into Karen
after Mass at St Paul's in Cambridge.
And her voice, like the Virgin's
at the Visitation to Elizabeth,
caused my parched heart to revive,
to leap, to shout, to exult,
and grow young again.
Poetry by Thomas DeFreitas
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Written on 2018-08-29 at 09:09
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