Day ? of the plague.

In spite of everything, hearing Randy Rainbow sing Tom Waits’ Martha on “Better Things” makes me sob and nearly burst with love.

My elderly neighbor makes signs of encouragement and hope, even so.

In spite of everything, a bowl of really delicious chicken soup is pure comfort.

News comes of more deaths, but a friend’s mother seems much improved, even so.

In spite of everything, a chickadee builds a new home for her future babies in the blue, egg-shaped ceramic birdhouse.

The wind, wild as Njord’s roaring, spins the bronze sculptures in the garden, almost like dancing, even so.

In spite of everything, on a chilly day, a nap under a soft blanket is heaven.

This poem, which I’ve loved for years, continues to bring me bittersweet joy (which seem appropriate these days), and to make me think deeply about what it means to love and be kind, even so…

Michael Van Walleghen – “Happiness”

Weep for what little things could make
them glad
Robert Frost, “Directive”
Melvin,
the large collie
who lives in the red house
at the end of my daily run
is happy,
happy to see me
even now,
in February—
a month of low skies
and slowly melting snow.
His yard
has turned almost
entirely to mud—
but so what?
Today,
as if to please me,
he has torn apart
and scattered
everywhere,
a yellow plastic bucket
the color of forsythia
or daffodils…
And now,
in a transport
of cross-eyed
muddy ecstasy,
he has placed
his filthy two front paws
together
on the top pipe
of his sagging cyclone fence—
drooling a little,
his tail
wagging furiously,
until finally,
as if I were God’s angel himself—
fulgent,
blinding,
aflame
with news of the Resurrection,
I give him a biscuit
instead
Which is fine with Melvin—
who is wise,
by whole epochs
of evolution,
beyond his years.
Take
what you can get,
that’s his motto…
And really,
apropos of bliss,
happiness
and the true rapture,
what saint
could tell us half as much…?
even as he drops
back down
into the cold
dogshit muck
he’ll have to live in
everyday
for weeks on end perhaps
unless it freezes…
whining now,
dancing
nervously
as I turn away
again,
to leave him there
the same today
as yesterday—
one of the truly wretched
of this earth
whose happiness
is almost more
than I can bear.

“Happiness” appeared in In the Black Window:  New and Selected Poems (University of Illinois Press, 2004).  Copyright © 2004 by Michael Van Walleghen.

 

 

 

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