They were not optional in our family,
once a week, half an hour, that and
at least 20 minutes daily, the youngest
got the choice of times.
He quit after a year, his sister
was three years in and went on another
and I was eight years staring
at the 88 keys, so many of which
would never get used, useless
as were the pedals I couldn’t reach
at first and rarely needed later.
It was upright, as I was supposed
to be, but only was in sight
of my teacher, and I thought
Bill Evans had it right, leaning
over the keys insuring that they
wouldn’t make an escape.
I stopped when my parents realized
how much they had spent
on what they would never enjoy
and I would as soon forget.
On the worst day, of the worst
week, or even just a day, like most
that did not go the way you want,
step outside at night if the sky is clear
and stare upwards at the universe.
Realize that you are seeing
more than a monumental collection
of celestial bodies, that you are
experiencing so much history,
and moments older than
mankind itself, and in that moment
you are in the midst of eternity.
First of all, Jack, you were sent to the corner for a reason. That pie was for everyone, not just you, we have told you endlessly about how wrong selfishness is. You won’t listen. And how many times do we have to tell you to use a fork or a spoon. Not only did you ruin the pie, no one wants to eat what is left once you put your hand in it. And how are we supposed to get that stain off your white shirt? Good boy? Oh, no, anything but, so you are grounded for a week.
I can assure you I will be there
one week from the date I
was supposed to arrive, not a day
sooner and only possibly a day later.
If, by any strange chance I am not
please feel free to contact me
immediately at the number
I have not given you and won’t.
And if you cannot remember when
I was supposed to arrive, that is
perhaps because I have never told you,
but rest assured I will do so
immediately upon my arrival.
Yesterday the cat
explained at great length
that we occupy
her house because
she loves us, but that we
dare not take
this status for granted.
I scratched her behind her ears
to signify my agreement
and so she took my simple
act of kindness.
You get another week
she said, purring.
Next week, somewhere,
something will happen.
Several people will say
they foresaw it,
others will be equally
certain it was
The truth, of course,
will be elusive
the certainty of uncertainty.
It would be so much
easier if nothing happened
but things never happen
according to anyone’s
overly simple plans.
Sometime this week
you will get a note.
You will not know
who it is from,
and you won’t be
at all certain just
what it is supposed
to mean, but you
will carefully fold it,
place it in your pocket
and later put it
in a safe place
along with all the other
notes you’ve written
Tomorrow, in all likelihood,
the park will still be there,
we will still be walking there,
the Austrian Pines will still
stare down at us on the path,
and the cardinal will flash by,
his cry for attention in a red blaze.
Tomorrow all this will likely happen
as it did yesterday and last week,
and yet nothing will be the same,
nothing, nothing at all.