The Summer House

The Summer House


After a hard rain, a sudden clearing.
Puddles shine on the gravel path
Winding down to the meadow where smoky wisps
Rise from the warm ground, low earth clouds
That thin and vanish; and now
The birds start up again, and the crickets.

What if a happy life is only a long succession
Of happy moments; if they come unbidden
And the virtue that serves us best is simple readiness,
Mere openness to the occasion, if the sycamore
Swaying whenever the wind moves by
Serves as our great exemplar, sage, and prophet?

I hope not. I hope the efforts I've made
To claim my life as my own and give it meaning
Lead in the end to a happiness more alive
And lasting than any that fortune offers
Whenever she pleases, the random bounty
Impossible to anticipate or encourage.

My efforts, my patching of roofs and windows,
The writing of invitations, the widening of my guest list,
The mastery of guitar chords, the library work
On the history of landscape in water color and oils,
What exactly they add to the world of hills and valleys
That the hills and valleys should be grateful for.

And then this hard rain and sudden clearing,
This low sun, these rosy clouds that I interpret
As proof I'm included in the lucky flow of gifts
Circling the earth, offering me a welcome
Hard to resist, without conditions or reservations,
With nothing expected of me, nothing to be earned.

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