“Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” ~ Pema Chodron
Hello, good-looking friends. How are you holding up?
Hard to believe it’s already June. It’s certainly been a trying three months! Time to anticipate summer with a little strawberry love. 🙂
As we hunker down in our private spaces, our strength, resilience, faith and patience are being tested as never before. Each day brings a new concern as we reassess our priorities and consider an uncertain future.
Rather than perpetually bemoan forced confinement, we can mindfully pause to carefully consider, with humility and gratitude, the time we are actually being given and the challenge to use it wisely.
I’m here to tell you there is good news: Today, it’s your turn. Wherever you are standing right now, I give this to you:
WHAT IS GIVEN by Ralph Murre
The likelihood of finding strawberries
tiny and wild and sweet
around your ankles
on any given day
in any given place
is not great
people find strawberries
right where they are standing
just because it is their turn
to be given a taste
of something wild and sweet
Every afternoon at two-fifteen they come,
a procession of chairs and walkers,
or unaided in a slow and ponderous shuffle,
backs hunched against the unkindness of time,
to assemble in the great room for tea.
They enjoy this ritual —
the sturdy cups of Orange Pekoe,
cookies and squares that break up a day,
words exchanged, sometimes even heard,
by folk whose paths might not have crossed before.
It’s a slow dance, led by invisible partners.
It’s the last dance, and they’re saving it
for every afternoon at two-fifteen.
Nursing homes have been in the news a lot lately. After all, it was a nursing home — the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington — that first warranted our serious concern about COVID-19’s community spread in the U.S. back in late February.
We learned that the elderly were the most vulnerable, and that many residents as well as caregivers had been lost or were fighting for their lives across the country.
When I stumbled upon this lovely poem by Canadian poet Linda Crosfield recently, I couldn’t help but view it through the lens of the pandemic. The cherished ritual of afternoon tea took on an added poignancy as I thought of those who no longer have the joy of a “last dance” to look forward to.
As it turns out, though, there was a bright spot, a glimmer of hope.
When I contacted Linda to ask for permission to share her poem, she provided a little backstory about it:
I wrote “Tea at Jubilee Manor” when my aunt was living there. It’s a nursing home in Nelson, BC. She died at 102 in 2012. Now my mother is in the same place and she’s turning 100 on June 3rd. Sadly, it won’t be quite the celebration we’d always planned. Can’t see her in person. No hugs. No flowers. Gifts frowned on. But we can send in one of those little airline-sized bottles of gin and some tonic and we will toast her over the fence on the day.
Now the poem is even more meaningful. Though I was sorry to hear Linda and her family won’t be able to celebrate this landmark birthday in person, I was so relieved that her mom is okay and would indeed be observing a rare milestone next week.
Would you like to meet Daisy? Here she is:
Have you ever seen such a beautiful face, such a wonderful smile? Oh, the people she’s met, the things and places she’s seen, the love she’s shared in 100 years! And she’s given us a poet!
Oh, look — it’s 2:15! In honor of Daisy’s birthday on Wednesday, we’ve set up a little afternoon tea. Please help yourself to some marble cake, dark chocolate pretzels, lemon, oat, and chocolate chip cookies, and of course, a warm cup of Orange Pekoe.
If not for Linda’s poem, our paths might never have crossed. Just as her heartening words suggest, we must follow the lead of our wise elders by rejoicing in simple pleasures and cherishing each moment as it comes, with gratitude that it’s been given.
There’s much to be said, especially in tough, unpredictable times, about treating each slow dance as your last.
While you nibble and sip, enjoy this mini gallery of seniors and Samantha Reynolds’s poem, as a way of honoring those we’ve lost, those we’ve found, and those we’ve yet to meet. Not to be forgotten, devalued, discounted or sacrificed, but revered, respected and treasured.
“In the cookie of life, friends are the chocolate chips.” ~ Salman Rushdie
Hello, Poetry-loving Friends!
Hope you’re feeling a little chipper today, because it’s National Chocolate Chip Day!
Thought we’d serve up a little comfort and levity to brighten your weekend. Please help yourself to as many warm-from-the-oven cookies as you like and a tall glass of milk — you certainly deserve it!
A few weeks ago, I received a nice thank you email from New Hampshire poet Jeff Friedman. You may remember that I featured his awesome “Poem for Ross Gay” back in December. I’ve never been quite the same since reading how Ross ate four Athena melons, an entire book of poetry, and all the eggs in the house, while refusing chocolate chip cookies and King Arthur chocolate onyx wafers (cause his body is a temple).
I didn’t need further convincing that Jeff is my kind of poet, but after he mentioned that chocolate chip cookiesare the mainstay of his diet, there is simply no doubt.
So today, another Jeff poem — and yes, there’s chocolatein it. I’ve always wanted to work in or own a bakery. But the narrator in the poem and I just happen to be allergic to the same thing. Wrap your lips around this one, but save me an éclair. 🙂
WORKING IN FLOUR by Jeff Friedman
When I walked into the bakery at my usual time
asking politely for two marble cookies,
a fudgy chocolate drop rising from the chocolate swirls,
Ida Kaminsky, who came from strong Russian stock —
a hearty vegetable stew, spicy meats rolled in
cooked cabbage — winked and asked if I wanted a job.
She offered me two bucks an hour,
half off on the marble cookies, and anything
not sold at the end of the day might also be mine.
I put on an apron, pushed through
the swinging doors to help the bakers.
The smell of flour was thick
and tree pollen spotted the windows.
Tall and freckled, Max, the other assistant,
squeezed my hand, “I’ll show you what to do.”
He taught me how to use the cake decorator,
how to prepare the éclairs and put them in their doilies,
then pointed out the brooms and mops, the industrial
strength cleansers, the double sink
with rubber hoses coiled in it. “You don’t want
paste to harden in the bowls.”
From across the room, where he scooped chocolate chip
cookie batter onto a baking tray, Julius, the baker,
snapped, “Make sure you tell him: Everything
has to be spick-and-span.” The flies heard him
and flew off the lip of the sink toward the light fixtures.
Soon I began sneezing, my hapless ahchoos
running down spotted walls, glistening
on my face and hands as I pumped the custard
through a nozzle into the delicate éclair rolls.
Later, when I worked on cleaning the floors,
Max yelled at me for spreading the dirt
in circles with my mop.
I stepped back, kicking over the bucket of lye.
All in a day’s work, I thought.
The next morning, Ida Kaminsky cornered me,
“I liked you better as a customer.”
I folded my apron neatly without arguing back
picked up my bag of cookies
and walked out into the bright spring air,
where now I understood my mother’s comment,
“You’re allergic to work” and where, for a moment,
I stopped sneezing.
Now, please leave your poetry-related links below with the charming and debonair Mr. Linky. Take some chocolate chip cookies with you, and enjoy your little foray around the blogosphere as you savor all the wonderful posts. Happy Poetry Friday, and thanks for joining us!
More cookies for the road compliments of the resident bakers:
“I love watching keep-fit videos while munching chocolate chip cookies.” ~ Dolly Parton
“If I had any choice in the matter, I’d stay in my comfy bed and eat warm chocolate chip cookies all day.” ~ Simone Elkeles
“I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.” ~ Nora Ephron
“A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.” ~ Barbara Johnson
Did YOU take the cookies from the cookie jar?
Can’t fool me. I see crumbs on your face. 🙂
Don’t blame you, though. A cookie, at any time of day, always makes things better.
THE COOKIE JAR by Edgar Guest
You can rig up a house with all
manner of things,
The prayer rugs of sultans and
princes and kings;
You can hang on its wall the
old tapestries rare
Which some dead Egyptian
once treasured with care;
But though costly and
gorgeous its furnishings are,
It must have, to be homelike,
an old cookie jar.
There are just a few things that
a home must possess,
Besides all your money and all
your success —
A few good old books which
some loved one has read,
Some trinkets of those whose
sweet spirits have fled,
And then in the pantry, not
shoved back too far
For the hungry to get to, that
old cookie jar.
Let the house be a mansion, I
care not at all!
Let the finest of pictures be
hung on each wall,
Let the carpets be made of the
And the chairs only those
which great wealth
I’d still want to keep for the joy
of my flock
That homey, old fashioned,
well-filled cookie crock.
Like the love of the Mother it
shines through our years;
It has soothed all our hurts and
dried away tears;
It has paid us for toiling; in
sorrow or joy,
It has always shown kindness
to each girl and boy;
And I’m sorry for people,
whoever they are,
Who live in a house where
there’s no cookie jar.
Did you know that tomorrow, April l8, is National Animal Crackers Day? 🙂
Oh, to return to a simpler, more innocent time, when it was all about glee rather than guilt!
ANIMAL CRACKER (no s) by Gretchen Friel
My students are inspired to read
more poems aloud if I bring
frosted animal crackers to class.
All well and good for them,
they are not scouring the perimeter
of the grocery store lately,
choosing only fresh produce,
spinach and bananas
They do not know that
I have removed the map
of interior aisles from my
undone my bonds with
sugar and fat, so that
even the innocent glance
after snacks in aisle nine
causes guilt I may need to
my sister perhaps,
“Is there a nutritionist in the house?”
I grasp firmly the airtight foil
bag of pink and white safari shapes.
Animal cookies with rainbow sprinkles
stare innocently at me from a
a past to which I cannot return.
I read the serving size and calorie count.
8 cookies, 160 calories.
20 calories for one soul.
not too long or hard,
cut the foil,
drink in a wave of sugar air,
only I could love this much,
try to decide between pink
Will they taste different?
I remove a single
white iced mountain goat,
He travels the lonely caves
of my esophagus,
to a pit where I think
I hear him land.
Growling, you would think he is
But no, his
is a solitary fate.