Friday, January 18, 2013

The Monkey Book

The day you feel overwhelming joy
At the thought of escaping is
The day you'll be able to escape.

The moment you're truly content
To be done is the one moment
You'll know you can be done.

It's a tale told by the miserable
That explains away the happy gone
As groaning malcontents. It's wrong.

I'm not there yet. I still clutch
My world and thank it and beg
For additional mercies daily,

As if it were a magic dispenser,
Which it is, although not always
Fond of dispensing what I want.

Just often enough, though,
It holds me with diverse delights,
Especially those from fatherhood,

As for example, this morning:
Our small daughter has a new easel,
A whiteboard she calls her "weasel,"

And she drew on it for an hour
In her inscrutable fashion, blonde
Monk in pigtails making mandalas.

I watched entranced and commented
As the low winter sun and Domenico Scarlatti
Honeyed me in one jointly calming harmony,

At which point, as if I weren't charmed
Enough, she wiped the board clean
Handed me the marker and requested

"A sad octagon, Papa." It's true,
Although she's only two. She knows
The sunny porthole on our porch

Is called an octagon. She's been
Intently examining expressions
Of emotion recently, especially

When we read her a book titled
"How Do You Feel?" (A cartoonish
Monkey provides the illustrations.

She calls it "the monkey book.")
So I wasn't entirely startled
By her emotional geometry,

And I did my best to do as she suggested,
Drawing a sad, octagonal face as,
Helplessly, we both were laughing.

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