What will you do with the last good days?
Before the seas rise and the skies close in,
before the terrible bill
for all our thoughtless wanting
finally comes due?
What will you do
with the last fresh morning,
filled with the watermelon scent
of cut grass and the insistent
bird calling sweet sweet
across the shining day?
Crops are dying, economies failing,
men crazy with the lust for power and fame
are shooting up movie theaters and
engineering the profits of banks.
It is entirely possible
it only gets worse from here.
How can you leave your heart
open to such a vast, pervasive sadness?
How can you close your eyes
to the riot of joy and beauty
The solutions, if there are any
to be had, are complex, detailed,
demanding. The answers
are immediate and small.
Wake up. Give thanks. Sing.
Here is a question to contemplate: what to do with the last good days – of your life? of the world? Either way, before the terrible bill / for all our thoughtless wanting / finally comes due. Sounds ominous, rather bleak. But then the poet offers us the watermelon scent / of cut grass and that irresistible birdcall of sweet sweet on the last fresh morning.
Then we are back again in a dystopian world of failing economies and crops, where the greed of rampant consumerism makes people crazy. But possibly, she tells us, it could get even worse. How can you leave your heart / open to such a vast, pervasive sadness? Indeed how do we leave our hearts open to the tragedies of this world? But wait, How can you close your eyes / to the riot of joy and beauty / that remains? She has named the paradox of this life of vast, pervasive sadness along with the riot of joy and beauty. Both exist so we must leave our hearts and eyes open to both.
She does not offer us simple solutions which if there are any / to be had, are complex, detailed, / demanding. But she does reveal that there are answers which are immediate and small. On these last good days, she is blunt, precise: Wake up. Give thanks. Sing. What else could we do, should we do, in the face of great sorrow balanced with the sweet sweet of joy and beauty.
What will be your song?