Gratitude

Because of the way this word is often used, as if it is a duty or in some very smarmy context, I rarely use it. But the poet Ross Gay has managed to integrate this into his daily life in a conscious and engaging way.  Here is one of his odes:

Ode to buttoning and unbuttoning my shirt

No one knew or at least I didn’t know
they knew
what the thin disks threaded hereon my shirt
might give me
in terms of joy
this is not something to be taken lightly the gift
of buttoning one’s shirt
slowly
top to bottom
or bottom
to top or sometimes
the buttons
will be on the other
side and
I am a woman
that morning
slipping the glass
through its slot
I tread
differently that day
or some of it
anyway
my conversations
are different
and the car bomb slicing the air
and the people in it
for a quarter mile
and the honeybee’s
legs furred with pollen
mean another
thing to me
than on the other days
which too have
been drizzled in this simplest of joys
in this world
of spaceships and subatomic this and that
two maybe three
times a day
some days
I have the distinct pleasure of slowly untethering
the one side
from the other

which is like unbuckling
a stack of vertebrae
with delicacy
for I must only use
the tips
of my fingers
with which I will
one day close
my mother’s eyes
this is as delicate
as we can be
in this life
practicing
like this
giving the raft of our hands
to the clumsy spider
and blowing soft until she
lifts her damp heft
and crawls off
we practice like this
pushing the seed into the earth like this first
in the morning
then at night
we practice
sliding the bones home.

 

Ross Gay
from Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude

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