It's all in how you look at it, really
by Ann Howells


I mean, a thistle among roses appears a rude thing,
slow, cloddish country cousin who visits,
whose awkward manners do not fit--you apologize,
make excuses, feel mild embarrassment.  Then,
place that same thistle atop a peck of turnips.
No longer simple produce, it becomes beautiful,
a still life, rich purple blossom echoed in tints
upon each creamy globe.

So, I sit across the table from Jason
as he considers a drafty walk-up in New York,
a need he feels to suffer for his art, and, I admit,
aware the irony of lamenting good fortune,
a life too easy.  My poetry does not rage
nor does it weep; I write of small things.
"What about last spring?" he queries.  My face goes blank.
"You've forgotten," he cries, amazed.  Then I remember
my son's accident. "He...he's OK, it's OK," I stammer
(so I forgot--like my daughter's cancer, my miscarriage,
so many things).

I tell my daughter I'm an optimist.  "You? You?" she jeers.
We argue, each presenting her own stacked evidence.
Later, we drive to Denton to the book store.
"...our luck they'll be closed," I mumble as we approach.
She pounces, "See! See! Some optimist!"  I remain quiet.
Were the store closed, I would see the irony,
only time I didn't call ahead; she would see a portent
of how the day, the year, her life was destined to be.
Someday I will speak to her of thistles and turnips.






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