Way back. September 2010 or so.
To Be Alive
Lunch with Deborah. Early September.
The usual place and time. Harvard Square,
One o'clock. Deb has chicken and pasta,
With only a glass of cold water to drink.
I have deep-dish pizza, topped with sausage
And pepperoni, and mint-flavored iced tea.
Just enough mint in the tea to let you know
It's there. Not overpowering, thank Heaven.
Today I am carrying just one book, a slender
Volume of verse by William Carlos Williams
That I bought at the Coop just before lunch:
Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems,
A New Directions Paperbook. I love poetry,
The old and the new, the pellucidly clear
And the rambunctiously surreal, poems that show
A scene with photographic clarity
And curious dithyrambs that flash and glitter
With coruscating novelties of phrasing
Where meaning takes a back seat to the music.
In such poems a word might appear, like "orbit"
Or "calamity" or "burl" or "scad" or "heft" --
But each word shines with a new and strange significance,
Depending on the context. What is the context
That can make a word like "dust" be lustrous?
I ponder the question for the split-second
It takes for me to catch the eye of the waitress
At this, our favorite restaurant, Deb's and mine;
But like a one-winged butterfly in a Zen koan,
The question disappears, takes flight to the skies,
And leaves me happy in the good company
Of Deborah, dearest friend of decades now,
Whose conversation is capacious, compassing
French films, American sitcoms, and vexingly
Thorny problems pertaining to religion.
She asks me if the mere admission of sin
Without a firm purpose of amendment
Suffices to obtain divine forgiveness.
I answer, with (yikes!) sausage-scented breath,
That God, though merciful, ain't easily tricked.
I save my lecture on the great distinction
Between perfect and imperfect contrition
For another day. Our talk turns to Motown,
And those great songs by the late Marvin Gaye.
The waitress refills Deborah's glass of water
And I am just excited to be alive
With Deborah, in Harvard Square, today.
Poetry by Uncle Meridian
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Written on 2022-06-03 at 08:39
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