Friday’s Poem: I Prefer Happiness

You once said that although you were drawn

to its music, you didn’t understand poetry,

all metaphor and simile, and why

didn’t people say what they meant.

You are a storyteller–we, born of the same mother–

but prefer spoken word, facts propped up by feeling.

I wonder what the difference is, in the end,

our voices as specific as bell tones parting silence.

Still, you want me to write all that you’ve labored over

but cannot quite say: the black heart of things.

We know how ominous was that era of darkness,

suffering a hair’s breadth from one another

though unknowing, each whittled down

by futility and terror, toughened by a scarcity of hope.

We were young then, now are well seasoned.

No, my dear one,

I would rather speak of ebullience.

Your effervescent laughter–

like Respighi’s “Fountains of Rome”–

even as your memory dims and the years truncate.

This: your expertise in salvage and reclamation;

your gift for leading and charging past dead ends.

Your strength as you bore on your back mattresses,

blankets, food to the midnight alley’s lost and woebegon.

Your trusting welcome of all creatures, whole or ruined.

So let’s set fire to the past and watch it burn,

smoke eaten by the heavens, flowers rising from ashes.

I would rather speak of happiness, our flags

forged from tatters and twigs, raised to the wind.

Our paths, severed then rejoined and our lives

linked forever not by the crucible of loss

but by every instance of warrior sister love

given and gathered and nurtured with light–

our song made up between us as we have sought our paradise.

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