Everyday Things We’re still getting used to the new house: How the blinds work Whether the couch belongs where we put it How to set the thermostat Where the good dishes go (In a marriage-defining moment My wife said, “I want guests To see them, but I don’t want it To look like we put them there So guests would see them.”) And there is a new-normal panoply Of sights and sounds: The neighbor with the motorcycle The dawn light on the bedroom wall The other neighbor who weed eats At seven AM on Sunday. Weekday mornings I sit in the breakfast nook With my quintessentially American Orange juice-coffee-and cereal. I reflect that my grandfather in Bombay (He refuses to call it Mumbai) Has never seen a cereal box An orange or a coffee machine. But he plays chess every day With his twin brother—without a board. The board is in their heads. They tell each other their moves And rest their teacups On the ornate tabletop Their grandfather carved During the British Raj. My grandfather can tell you Every move of games he played fifty years ago. And when I compare my life to his I end with nothing but questions. I digress. Over the lip of my coffee cup I see our yard and then the subdivision pond With its neat jogging track. There’s a man—some distant neighbor I suppose— Who runs the track Sunday through Wednesday At 7:30 to the minute. He’s a very good runner Trim-waisted and muscular And always accompanied by his black Lab. The dog lopes with his master’s effortless efficiency And a dog’s visible pride In doing an exemplary job Of doing his job. I imagine the guy travels for business Thursday and Friday. On those days At 7:30 to the minute, the Lab appears alone And takes his master’s laps for thirty minutes. At first I thought it was funny Now I think it is most admirable. I love that dog And I think grandfather would too. There’s something profound In his devotion to a ritual That can’t possibly make sense to him. If he were a guru, and not a dog, He might say, “Sometimes Freedom is an obligation To give up some freedom And run the prescribed laps Simply for the sake of love and duty.” APRIL 2021 ~ Check out Andrew's recent Grandma Moses Chapbook here.