We had a professor named Jack
who was always in a good mood;
he was known for it. Happy Jack,
he juggled his knowledge and wit
and spread light. When you spoke
he listened so hard you could see
your words written on his heart.
Somehow, we always
parted leavened, laughing,
after tutorials with Jack.
I left the noise of my husband’s family almost
knowing I would leave the marriage soon,
and walked along North Lake Drive sliding
into the silence of empty streets, the hushed
cold world full and alone, shuttered from
holiday noise, lit rooms and memories.
The lake met the gray sky,
a curtain fallen on a closed play.
Sometimes there are
no surprises left.
I walked, from the bay all the way to the
bend in the road that ended the parade of
old money on the lake, by the home
where they wrapped their towering ancient
oak in thousands of lights every
Christmas, and people came
from all over Milwaukee, travelers
following stars, expecting miracles
and answers, or just the light
that will lead you to them.
A car drove by; a man
heading north, somewhere else,
and then, a sudden slam of brakes,
skidding tires and the car
u-turned–right in the middle
of North Lake Drive–and rolled up next to me: it
was Jack, dashing to Sendik’s for something
necessary to the memories this Thanksgiving
would conjure. He shouted my name,
laughing, invited me to sit in the car,
share news, share time. And the damp
and the gray fell away in his light. He listened
so hard I saw my words written on his heart.
I asked Jack where he found his true
deep joy, how he managed such
bright delight. And he had the answer ready:
Grad school in New York, lonely, broke,
trying every day, every day meeting
the guy at the newstand, greeting the guy
with his elemental joy and being rebuffed,
feeling flattened, his spirit mugged,
bright energy punctured, leaking,
momentum dragging, beaten,
till one day he realized, all in a moment,
“I didn’t have to give that guy my joy; I
could share it, and keep it, too.”
I thought I could try that: choose
joy, share it, and keep it.
Sometimes there are
no surprises left but one,
and it saves you
and you take it in, changed,
and become the surprise
Here is link to a wonderful collection of poetry, essays, and meditations about our experiences during this time of challenges : https://dreamlife.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/corona-times-preview/#comment-8614
I love the wonderful oral interpretation of “And the People Stayed Home” by Kate Winslet and so many others, but it’s hard to top the lilting mellowness of a pure Irish brogue…it so gently holds every word and idea and honors it. You always hear new music in words you’ve turned over a million times. I swear, a shopping list would sound like singing angels (to me) if recited by this man. His name is Dennis Earlie, and he’s a filmmaker in Ireland, who created this with his colleague, Noreen Bingham, to honor their family members who died from Covid-19, and the frontline workers who support us all.
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