Words of WonderWhat the Living Do - Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

by Marie Howe


Wow, this one touched me deeply. And reading that poet Marie Howe‘s brother John died not long before, gave more poignant context to what the living do, all these ordinary and not exactly glamorous ingredients of life that you might think you’d be happy to do without… and yet, this is it! How precious to realise that we are part of this human family of the living, and able to remember those who have passed away.

Nothing more to say, but to live it…



PS if you’d like to practise being aware of the miracle of living – in all its glory and mundanity – together with others, there is a new mindfulness course starting before long…

Photo by Tina Bosse on Unsplash