Monday, March 09, 2015


I heard this poem on NPR today -- it's called Happiness and it's by Jane Kenyon. Maybe you heard it too?

There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
                    It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

So beautiful...

*   *   *

For some reason, I remembered today a seminar I took as a graduate student in Chicago some forty years ago. There were weekly speakers -- guest authors of very famous published works. One student (we took turns) had to open the discussion each week by giving a review of the work. When it was my turn, I wrote my review and presented it with great excitement. I thought I had nailed all the weak points in the written argument. I saw the flaws, the problems. I was so pumped! I was standing up for scholarship, for accuracy! I read my review in class. The author was there. He listened. I finished, looking up with pride at my own brilliance. I had won, no?

The author sighed deeply. He then said, ever so briefly: wow, harsh words.

Perhaps Ocean, which tries to stray from harsh words is the indirect outcrop of that experience.

*   *   *

Back to the poem: go ahead. Dare me not to be happy. Just know that in the long run, you'll surely lose the dare.

It was a beautiful day. A warm, spring-filled day. As usual, we have the spring flock of deer pass through...


I let it go. There isn't much that they can destroy right now. (I hope.)

Breakfast. Sun room. A joy.


And eventually, I'm in Snowdrop's home, where I find mom and daughter at play.


I am semi helpful in giving my daughter time for chores. Yes, I play with Snowdrop. Yes, her mom stuffs some loads into the washing machine. But then, all three of us are raring to go and taste that spring air. And so on goes the sweater (who remembers it? Yes! It's from the Arles knitting shop), and the cap purchased just today by grandma (because yesterday's was too large, in case you missed it).


She's ready. We're ready. And so my daughter pushes the stroller and I tag along and it is a deliriously wonderful hike around the small lake. Just over an hour of pleasure, for all three of us.


When you bring Snowdrop home from a walk and you take off her outdoor gear, you see in her that look of relief. As in -- I had fun, but I was a little scared that no good would come of it and now, here I am home and I am so happy about that!


Oh, Snowdrop!