I used to write poetry. I was much younger then, with a radical heart, raucous with emotion. Then I grew up. I learned to pull my emotions in, hug them like it was the last time I’d ever feel them because I was sure no one else wanted to hear from them. I stopped wearing my heart pinned to my chest and gave it a forwarding address deep inside. Now I find that with the passing of time and with roughness of the outside world, life used heavy-grit sandpaper on me because now, now my heart is back on the outside where it was before. Everything is raw. I can’t push it back down, and that’s a good thing, I think.
So I am mentally planning a poetry comeback. Until the inspiration hits me, I’m reading others’ poetry. Good Bones is one I feel with all my heart. I have on many occasions apologized to my children for the state of the world and my part in making it what it is now, what they will inherit and have to fix (or create a rocket in which to leave forever).
As I start down the poet’s path again, I share this work with you today. Perhaps it will resonate with you as well.
Good Bones, a poem by Maggie Smith
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
A clear and honest sentiment.
In the movie “City Slickers”, Billy Crystal is trying to “find himself” at mid-life. He goes to a dude ranch where he is in awe of an ancient cowboy played (perfectly) by Jack Palance.
Billy wants to know the old man’s secrets to a long life in peaceful step with the world.
Palance says “There’s just one thing you need to know.” several times in the story, but admonishes the younger that “It’s up to you to figure that out.”
Finally, Billy’s brief hiatus from the working world and “back east” is drawing to a close, and he begs the learned elder to share his secret to a happy life.
“Just this one thing,” Jack says, holding up a leather-gloved index finger.
Billy waits breathlessly at his feet.
Jack doesn’t move.
After a minute, Billy discovers Jack has died mid-sentence.
I think of this often, perhaps in ways similar to Maggie Smith, when it comes to some things.
Not so much about keeping hidden the ills of this world, it’s about being ever-so-careful to not rob them of the discoveries, the goods and bads, the wonders of unveiling their own truths.
All my best,
“It’s about being ever-so-careful to not rob them of the discoveries, the goods and bads, the wonders of unveiling their own truths.” This is a very wise sentiment, indeed. Although wisdom from you is never a surprise, it’s always beautiful and deeply appreciated. Thank you!