by Maggie Smith
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
After every hurricane, tornado, flood, fire or earthquake, the same quote is printed over and over in the media; “residents vow to rebuild.” It’s true, someone will rebuild. Someone always does where the view warrants the risks. We should bring the same zeal to rebuilding the shambles of our lives. Except for the exceptionally fortunate, most of us are our own natural disaster at some point, wasting our time shaking our fists at unseen forces, rather than finding affordable marriage insurance with a reasonable deductible. So go ahead and buy that bouquet of flowers at the super market or farmer’s market on Saturday morning. Pick out a bottle of wine. Take it home, set a nice table for yourself. Cook a fine meal for your partner tonight. Say a blessing for all that you have that is grounded and not blown away. You’ll never say on your deathbed, “if I had only spent less money on flowers, think of where I would be today.”
by Richard Wilbur (1921 – 2017)
Sometimes, on waking, she would close her eyes
For a last look at that white house she knew
In sleep alone, and held no title to,
And had not entered yet, for all her sighs.
What did she tell me of that house of hers?
White gatepost; terrace; fanlight of the door;
A widow’s walk above the bouldered shore;
Salt winds that ruffle the surrounding firs.
Is she now there, wherever there may be?
Only a foolish man would hope to find
That haven fashioned by her dreaming mind.
Night after night, my love, I put to sea.