Sorrows Much Keener Than These

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The Blue Bowl

by Jane Kenyon

Like primitives we buried the cat
with his bowl. Bare-handed
we scraped sand and gravel
back into the hole. It fell with a hiss
and thud on his side,
on his long red fur, the white feathers
that grew between his toes, and his
long, not to say aquiline, nose.
We stood and brushed each other off.
There are sorrows much keener than these.
Silent the rest of the day, we worked,
ate, stared, and slept. It stormed
all night; now it clears, and a robin
burbles from a dripping bush
like the neighbor who means well
but always says the wrong thing.

 I find myself this weekend in a small town on the Mississippi River in Iowa, the bars on its main street hopping and the lovely summer August night air soft and warm.   I will let the town go unnamed, as I am not sure I want to let the secret out. There are some towns that deserve some level of privacy and this is one of them.   River towns have a certain vibrancy that comes from the wealth accumulated from the grain terminals and movement of goods and people along its railroads and barges.   The economy in this town not very unlike what prosperity looked like 80 years earlier; main streets success still hinges on the yield of the upcoming crop in the surrounding fields in the nearby counties.

August in corn country is green and lush, but tinges of color are starting to show that signal fall isn’t far away.  But for this weekend, summer is still in command and there is a wedding to attend tomorrow, beer to drink, a dance or two to twirl and the enjoyment of being able to walk from the hotel down main street to where the celebrations will begin, under the clear blue skies of a prairie sun.  Let’s hope the newly weds are still in love in 50 years.

I am missing the funeral of a good friend and a family reunion to be at this wedding. Summer weekends are that precious a commodity that you have to make sacrifices or clone yourself to be all the places you would like to be at one time.  So tomorrow we’ll honor all my family with sacred vows, those present and those passed and toast them all with good cheer.  What are you toasting on this precious summer weekend?   Where are the two places you would most like to be at once on this August Saturday?


Let Evening Come

by Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.