Friday, January 28, 2011

Poetry Friday: Starfish


This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who says, Last night
the channel was full of starfish
. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life's way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won't give you smart or brave,
so you'll have to settle for lucky.) Because you
stopped when you should have started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea. 

"Starfish" by Eleanor Lerman, from Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds. Buy a copy at Sarabande Books.

Drift over to Elaine Magliaro's Wild Rose Reader to see what other great poems await you on today's Poetry Friday.

Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds won the 2006 Lenore Marshall Award from the Academy of American Poets. Students from Coloma Middle School South put together this video for Starfish:


Andrea Murphy said...

You never know the conversation that's going to sit down next to you at the counter. What a great and thoughtful way to start the day.

Thanks, Janet!

Mur said...

"Upon reflection, you are genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have become."


Thanks, Jet.

Mary Lee said...

Thanks for reminding me of a few more reasons why I love life so much...