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|  HOW LITTLE MY GOOD HEALTH

 
  Can we say of the sky
that it looks healthy?
Well, tonight it does.
Gold-and-turquoise sunset,
the colour swirl of a precious stone.
Even though it's an aberration, almost May-like
in the middle of February.
I'm out for a walk:
to close the greenhouse doors
that I vented during the day,
with the news of a cold wind
snow serpent
slipping in from the North tonight.

Usually on these walks
I try to invent lines of poetry,
something about the low clouds and how they roll over
on their backs like bear cubs,
paw at the ones above them as they wisp past.
Walking at a brisk pace,
almost speed-walking, taking in chunks of air,
another line comes to me by another poet:
Robert Lowell quotes Robert Frost
in a sonnet, where he talks about his two adult children
having gone insane, "How little my good health
ever did anyone near me."

And that always makes me think of Jake and Maya.
How does this vigorous walk help them?
All my Tai Chi, yoga, and Japanese sword practice,
all that blood through the veins
around muscles, rivers around mountains -
how does that help Jake with his Muscular Dystrophy?
How does it comfort Maya's feeling
of being left out all the time?

I remember when Jake was born
the baby next to him had a cleft lip,
which pierced me, the look
on his parents' face. Everyone else
counting fingers and toes, beaming.
And my little guy - his one visible blemish
was a crooked toe on his left foot
next to the pinkie toe,
and me thinking at the time
how someone was going to love
and kiss this one defect of his
when he was older. I silently named him
Jakey of the Crooky Toe.

How little I knew then.
And what do I know now? I close
the last house, mud thick on my boots,
just as the first flakes whip in.
I drink in deep draughts of winter cold
and raise this glass of sky
in health to us all.


from Forever the Last Time
Wolsak & Wynn
2004
Copyright © Jim Slominski