I don’t read a lot of poetry. Maybe one or two books a year, often less. Last year, I discovered the poems of Linda Pastan. One of my favourites is The Happiest Day.
It’s from her collection Heroes in Disguise.
The Happiest Day
It was early May, I think
a moment of lilac or dogwood
when so many promises are made
it hardly matters if a few are broken.
My mother and father still hovered
in the background, part of the scenery
like the houses I had grown up in,
and if they would be torn down later
that was something I knew
but didn’t believe. Our children were asleep
or playing, the youngest as new
as the new smell of the lilacs,
and how could I have guessed
their roots were shallow
and would be easily transplanted.
I didn’t even guess that I was happy.
The small irritations that are like salt
on melon were what I dwelt on,
though in truth they simply
made the fruit taste sweeter.
So we sat on the porch
in the cool morning, sipping
hot coffee. Behind the news of the day–
strikes and small wars, a fire somewhere–
I could see the top of your dark head
and thought not of public conflagrations
but of how it would feel on my bare shoulder.
If someone could stop the camera then…
if someone could only stop the camera
and ask me: are you happy?
perhaps I would have noticed
how the morning shone in the reflected
color of lilac. Yes, I might have said
and offered a steaming cup of coffee.
14 thoughts on “Linda Pastan’s The Happiest Day”
I was so pleased to see you posting about poetry and how appropriate as it is National Poetry Month
I’m glad to hear that. I had no idea. It’s just such a lovely spring day here, although not May yet, it reminded me of Pastan’s poem.
That is a lovely poem – full of yearning and carpe diem.
I agree. I was so glad I discovered her.
Beautiful poem, Caroline! Thanks for sharing. I love Linda Pastan’s poetry. I can’t remember how I discovered her poems – probably through a Norton anthology or some other anthology. I haven’t read any of her collections yet. Now after reading this beautiful poem, I so want to read ‘Heroes in Disguise’. Thanks for inspiring me.
It has so many great poems in the collection. I alos have another one which I want to read when I’ve finished this one.
Let me know what you think, should you read it and which will be your favourite.
Looking at everyone’s comments, can we generalize that book bloggers in general, don’t read much poetry? What do you think, Caroline?
I’m not sure we can generalize but it does look as if those I/we know don’t read a lot. 🙂
I don’t read a lot of poetry and when I do, I tend to return to old favourites. I’d never heard of this poet, and I like this poem a lot–such a sense of regret. We know there’s a whole back story there.
Me too but once in a while I discover a new poet.
I’m glad you like this too,
I really like that verse. I had never heard of Pastan before.
I also do not read much poetry. I really need to read more. So little time!
I’m glad you like it.
Indeed, never enough time. Although one could just read a poem a day.
So lovely. I don’t read much poetry either, but I love it.
I thought you might. 🙂