Logbook of Aliveness


Missing Emily this weekend. One of the things I love about us is that, when we are together, we are Professional Noticers. Our antennas are up when it comes to people being especially human. When we were in San Francisco in November, we got on the hotel elevator with a housekeeper. She told us how much joy it gave it her to come to work every day, and that she wasn't ready to be retired. She liked to stay busy and move her body. When we got off the elevator, Emily said, "That will go in our book for the day." That's what this poem is about.

Postcard to Emily

Unusually, I make it to the YMCA this morning,
park in the slackening dawn, fumble with my earphones,
find an empty treadmill. And already,
there are so many things to tell you.

I want to tell you about the 80-year-old man,
grimacing on the bench press. You’d say,
“God. What a lamb. I hope that’s me someday.”

And the clouds over the water, all the shuffled grays,
how this workout room has the best view in town.

And seniors in my stretching class
with their bright white shoes,
their customary places around the multipurpose room.

Especially the one with the red lipstick
who sidles up to me, finds the tag sticking out of my shirt,
deftly tucks it back, and says,
“I’ve done my good deed for the day.”
That would go on the record for sure,
the one we’ve been keeping for twenty years,
the logbook of aliveness
that would be much slimmer
if not for one another.