I Tell You by Susan Glassmeyer

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.

I Tell You

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.

11 thoughts on “I Tell You by Susan Glassmeyer

  1. Oh indeed! May we take nothing for granted. This sun rising into a cool dawn, this walk my dear one and I will take in our favorite forest. The walking. Thank you, Jan! For you and for mangoes and raspberries.!

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    • And I trust you will soon be enjoying the preciousness of moments with your family and their love, all this with the magnificent Atlantic ocean as backdrop 🙂 xoxoxo

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  2. Jan,
    This poem will stay with me for quite some time. The imagery is so beautiful. “…His smile would have made you weep….” Tears welled up when I came to those words – such a love and tenderness expressed so simply. At the end of the poem: “…Some days there will be more / flowers than the vase can hold…” Yes, gratitude for each and every moment of health – physical, cognitive and emotional.
    We accompanied a friend to the hospital this morning. He is 80 years old and has suffered for most of his life with bipolar disorder. After much agonizing and uncertainty he decided to take this step – anxious and hopeful. He looked so vulnerable being lead away. This poem really resonates with me…. Yes, it feels that on “…some days there ‘are’ more flowers than the vase can hold. It overflows with sorrow and with gratitude. “I could not predict the fullness of the day…”
    With deep appreciation thank you Jan. Lisa❤️

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  3. Dear Jan, a beautiful poem. Thank you.
    This June, the row of peonies along the side of our garage hardly bloomed at all. Those that did produce flowers had very few. For me, this raised feelings of loss. The abundance of years gone by simply was not there….like the movement a woman lost due to a stroke. Loss and grief. They seem to be seeping and swirling around me these days…can I find solace in previous year’s memories?

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  4. Yes, such a time of loss Debra, something as seemingly simple as the peonies not flowering highlights other losses and allows us to feel our grief. I lost my mother’s peace rose bush to winter this year. May you find solace in memories of other peonies and I in other roses – those cannot be taken away. xoxoxo

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