Imaginary Conversation by Linda Pastan

You tell me to live each day
as if it were my last. This is in the kitchen
where before coffee I complain
of the day ahead—that obstacle race
of minutes and hours,
grocery stores and doctors.

But why the last? I ask. Why not
live each day as if it were the first—
all raw astonishment, Eve rubbing
her eyes awake that first morning,
the sun coming up
like an ingénue in the east?

You grind the coffee
with the small roar of a mind
trying to clear itself. I set
the table, glance out the window
where dew has baptized every
living surface.

Imaginary Conversation

How often have you heard that admonition to live each day as if it were your last? More than once I’m guessing; certainly I have. It’s a kind of pay attention/wake up to your life piece of advice. Especially considering the day ahead of you – that obstacle race / of minutes and hours, / grocery stores and doctors. We all have our own obstacle race through the busy days that keep us focused ahead of ourselves.

But why the last? the poet asks – such an important question. Why not / live each day as if it were the first – / all raw astonishment ? The first day! I so love that question – the first day of your conscious life, an innocence never again to be felt. And how would you live it? Grinding the coffee, setting the table, glancing our the window / where dew has baptized every / living surface. Even the word baptized intimates an initiation into life. And every surface is living if we can look past our preconceptions.

So why not let yourself be astonished – live this day as if it were your first. You may be surprised, even a little, by how the world reveals itself to you.

13 thoughts on “Imaginary Conversation by Linda Pastan

  1. Jan, I love this – the perspective of ‘first’ rather than ‘last’. I love the energy in my body. Thank you so much!

    Margaret 613-725-6941 Home 613-795-9879 Mobile

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  2. What a wonderful question. I can feel the shift in my body from a kind of urgent dread thinking I have to make something utterly useful and lasting out of the day, to seeing it as all gift. What if this was the first day you ever saw snow! The first day you ever wrapped a Christmas gift or baked cookies! The first day you ever saw the Cardinals arrive at first light! Thank you for this!

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  3. Thanks for this lovely poem. To turn the telescope around is to invite astonishment at the first time we have SEEN, woken up, to the miracle of being alive. Wonderful! Today I saw the tree at the bottom of the hill, clothed in a green velvet moss up the trunk, so that it looked in the sunlight like a ballerina in green velvet leggings. Maybe like a tree playing Robin Hood, or a tree becoming a ballerina in a woodland scene. It was astonishing!

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  4. Thank you for this poem Jan.
    I especially love the last line of your comment: “….live this day as if it were your first. You may be surprised, even a little, by how the world reveals itself to you.” I love the sense of the ‘how’. We listened, this morning, to new songs created and played by my brother and sister in law. What a beautiful and unexpected beginning to this day!
    Love, Lisa

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  5. Thank you once again! Terrific poem to select by this amazing Jewish poet. I think your interpretation is clear & accurate. Like you, I love that crucial question Why not…the first?
    I disagree with your analysis of the term baptised – “the word baptized intimates an initiation into life”. In Latin via Greek language(Greek noun baptismos (βαπτισμός), a term for ritual washing) and even in Jewish culture usage (Baptism has similarities to Tvilah, a Jewish purification ritual of immersing in water) it references dipping, immersion or washing. So I think she means the dew has washed/covered every surface. If any religious connotation is there, I think it is as a form of grace, a new beginning is offered maybe?

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    • Thank you Maggie, I have no quarrel with your definition of baptism – I don’t analyse 🙂 just offer my own interpretations of meanings that I make. I like the idea of a form of grace, a new beginning. thanks, Janice

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