Living

  

Kind dears, I am averaging a post every other week.  I have heard your outcry, and I apologize, I apologize, I apologize (maybe go into the archives when you really need a prompt–there are years of writing back there).  This thesis writing thing is sort of kicking my ass.  But stick with me.  Just a few months more.  Then something else will be kicking my ass, I’m sure.  

You may have heard me speak at length, about happiness, and how there is this false expectation that it occurs in the alignment of a great quantity of perfect circumstances.  If we are waiting for the perfect job, the perfect love, the perfect finances, the perfect body to all come at once and make us happy–we are pretty much screwed.  If we are waiting for every remaining ghost of our pasts to disappear and leave us unmarred, scars healed, nightmares replaced by sound sleep–we are absolutely going to die waiting.  Happiness is much smaller than that, in my opinion.  It is wanting a sandwich and being able to go get that sandwich.  It is neeeding to pee and making it to the bathroom on time.  It is feeling grateful for your hands, for warm coffee. It’s the little flashes of time, the glimmers, when you “cherish yourself,” when you forget all the ways you are failing or fucked up or not who you want to be, and only feel kindness toward yourself.  

When does this happen for you?  If you’re inclined to tell me it doesn’t happen, you need to think more deeply (sorry to be an asshole here, but it’s true–if I’m writing this GD thesis, you’re writing a happy poem, damnit).  Pay attention to the expertise with which you swing into a parking spot, the loving way you wash your face, how you tuck yourself in at night and try to make yourself comfortable.  Write for 20 minutes now, then think about it all day and come back and write for 20 minutes more.  Send me the poems, send me the poems, send me the poems.      
I love the snot out of you.

What the Living Do

Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

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