‘Everyone’ is such a rich expression,
so powerful, persuasive, intimidating,
but it was no match for my mother
who could make its effect conditional
adding a simple ‘if’ and all would fall
off a cliff, as in ‘If everyone jumped…’
her artless and shrewd play ended
debate with a victory she deserved.
A last leaf clings to barren branch
a last breeze carrying sun’s fading glow
dusk races ahead of us at day’s end
summer green wounded by a frost
and we are the sadder for it all;
but fauna knows this time to turn
though lives shorter than ours
while instinct may lead to envy
we much rather enjoy the surprise.
The highway sped away
behind us in our brown Chevette
as we chased the setting sun
toward the Mississippi; it’s a
race we won and lost so
often we ignored the score.
A thermos of coffee in the
cold, a Coke in the heat wedged
between our feet because
cup holders hadn’t been
invented, but we deserved the
convenience of refreshment.
Everything west was ahead of
us, everything east past; we’d
follow closely those who braved
the limits, wondering at the
listless, lifeless dodderers
with no place to hurry to.
How many little, sleepy towns
did we cruise through along the
life we called our highway as we
talked out our dreams; this
happenstance was sacrosanct,
and it taught me reverence.
It seems obvious that so many with well defined lives
like the ones who give TedTalks with millions of views
translated into hundreds and hundreds of languages
(and who knew there were that many languages)
about learning from adversity, creating good out of evil,
starting a business that no one else even dreamed of
built on how they were bullied when just a small child,
and you realize you were just ignored, or plain or normal,
not misunderstood – there was nothing to understand
because you were only six or eight, but somehow they
were paying attention, learning, remembering and
not destroyed for the effort – which is a mercy;
it’s too late for you and me, but we still subject ourselves
to their pep-talks, motivational books, and those memes
about winners and quitters and we’re the latter.