Each day the engine of my gratefulness
must be coaxed and primed into action.
Of course like any old clunker,
it would just as soon stay put.
For even after the labored start beats the inertia,
and the plume of white smoke struggles upward,
the same hills always appear,
soaring daily—tall and ominous as before.
There is the long slow hill of “aging”
so gradual and smooth at first.
And then that steep grade called “the news.”
Yes, and always some mountain of a war
looming out there, never too far in the distance.
Even an old idea or a feeling long abandoned
might conspire to halt this fragile progress –
valves sputtering, tires flattening, clutch slipping.
But the old “potato, potato, potato” sound
of the engine, and all its mysterious fuel,
for which I am truly grateful
keeps stumbling along.
by Dale Biron
I’ve had this poem in my selection for a while, waiting for the right moment to post it, and this second week of November, 2020 seemed to be the right one. I like the down to earth American feel of it, which I also recognised in Dale Biron’s short TEDx talk on the power of poetry, including in a business context. He likes his poetry ‘practical and useful’ and if you’d like a poem about that, have a look at ‘On the Occasion of Speaking Out About Rarefied Poetry‘.
And I must say, I agree with him about the usefulness of poetry… a poem or even just a single line can be like mantra, a compass to orient myself by, or a friend in a difficult moment.
What touched me in this one, was the acknowledging of the mysterious fuel of the engine of gratefulness. What is it, that encourages us to turn to gratitude, even against the odds of all the various hills in this poem? I don’t know if I have a satisfying answer, but I have a sense it might be to do with love… as well as simple remembering to look for reasons to be grateful. May you find many!