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. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s