I could not predict the fullness
of the day. How it was enough
to stand alone without help
in the green yard at dawn.
How two geese would spin out
of the ochre sun opening my spine,
curling my head up to the sky
in an arc I took for granted.
And the lilac bush by the red
brick wall flooding the air
with its purple weight of beauty?
How it made my body swoon,
brought my arms to reach for it
without even thinking.
In class today a Dutch woman split
in two by a stroke – one branch
of her body a petrified silence,
walked leaning on her husband
to the treatment table while we
the unimpaired looked on with envy.
How he dignified her wobble,
beheld her deformation, untied her
shoe, removed the brace that stakes
her weaknesses. How he cradled
her down in his arms to the table
smoothing her hair as if they were
alone in their bed. I tell you –
his smile would have made you weep.
At twilight I visit my garden
where the peonies are about to burst.
Some days there will be more
flowers than the vase can hold.
Ever since I first read this poem, it has lingered and raised its head in moments of deep gratitude. Like Sunday morning as I sat on my deck with a coffee, my bowl of mangoes and raspberries, a gorgeous display of peonies at the back of the yard, pale pink against the dark green.
The poet describes the fullness of the day – how it was enough to stand alone without help, how she looked up to the sky in an arc I took for granted, how her arms reached for the lilacs without even thinking. All the ways our bodies move us through the day.
Then in the next stanza, in what initially seems an unrelated theme, she describes a woman split / in two by a stroke – one branch / of her body a petrified silence, supported by her husband. How this man dignified her wobble, / beheld her deformation…How he cradled her down in his arms. She illustrates his behaviour with the compelling statement his smile would have made you weep. You realize that her impairment did not compromise his love for her.
The final stanza brings us back to her garden, and me to mine, where the last line says volumes when you see the two previous ones brought together. Some days there will be more / flowers than the vase can hold. I tell you, I tell you, how can we not see our abundance, our good fortune, the fullness of the day, when we stop to consider what we already have.
May your days be filled with more flowers than the vase can hold.