Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Morning Thanks--Nose up

It's what you might expect from Billy Collins, something smart and warm that engages by way of a smile--well, a giggle, which is bigger than a simple smile.


was what they called you in high school
if you tripped on a shoelace in the hall
and all your books went flying.

Or if you walked into an open locker door,
you would be known as Einstein,
who imagined riding a streetcar into infinity.

Technology has changed all that, hasn't it? These days, nurds get respect because everybody knows they'll clear bigger salaries than anyone else a month after high school grad.

Later, genius became someone
who could take a sliver of chalk and squire pi
a hundred places out beyond the decimal point,

or a man painting on his back on a scaffold,
or drawing a waterwheel in a margin,
or spinning out a little night music.

Sure. We get smart. It's part of the aging process. Trust me, I'm retired..

But earlier this week on a wooded path,
I thought the swans afloat on the reservoir
were the true geniuses,
the ones who had figured out how to fly,
how to be both beautiful and brutal,
and how to mate for life.

Vintage Billy Collins. See what I mean?

Twenty-four geniuses in all,
for I numbered them as Yeats had done,
deployed upon the calm, crystalline surface—

forty-eight if we count their white reflections,
or an even fifty if you want to throw in me
and the dog running up ahead,

Here's the poetry.  See how deftly he slips himself into all of this? That works, or so it seems to me. Suddenly he's in this still life himself, as, of course, are we.  And now the joke:

who were at least smart enough to be out
that morning—she sniffing the ground,
me with my head up in the bright morning air.

There it is: Billy Collins the dog, just another sweet hound loving the morning. No sermon, just a smile. I like that.

Thursday, out on a country road on the South Dakota side of Big Sioux River, I suddenly found myself in an infinity of green, June busting out all over. Wasn't Yosemite. Wasn't Niagara Falls. Wasn't even the Black Hills. Just an ocean of emerald. 

But there I was, windows open, head up in the bright morning air.

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