Sunday, July 28, 2019

Happiness by Jane Kenyon


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.

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