Sunday, March 27, 2022

Unwitting Gifts are Anywhere

In the Poetry Potluck sponsored by the local YMCA we write poems to semi-monthly prompts given to us by our poetry facilitator or his designee. We meet over Zoom for an hour twice a month to read aloud and chat. Through our poetry prompts and the resulting poems, we've become what feels like friends, yet most of us have not (and may never) meet in person. It's been a lovely perk during the other 'P' even we've all experienced in the past two years. Thank you, Y!

The most recent prompt for a poem was "advice/words of wisdom received." Instead of writing about a specific gift, I wrote a poem about one of my favorite notions--something a person hears inadvertently that becomes advice and can even be profoundly helpful. Nine years ago I wrote a post on the topic and published it on this blog, which I reference in this link

Here is my poem written last week on the same topic.


Anyone can give you an unwitting gift, 

and that anyone will likely never know it.  

Offhand or sloppy is how the gift is wrapped,

its ribbon like a crumb stuck on a sleeve

            that draws you in, but goes unnoticed by another.

It’s a gulp of truth spoken in passing,

expelled like breath and enveloping you 

with an ah-ha, and unravels a knot of

worries and concerns or questions inside 

            that helps dissolve an undigested mental lump. 

Maybe you hear something on the radio 

and as your ears swallow the phrase, you realize 

how starved you were for this very thing, 

word-food which silences an unknown craving

            that soothes your insides from the outside in. 

 You might receive an unwitting gift in a checkout line,

or as anecdotal sharing in a good-friend chat, 

even from a person you don’t much care for,

but someone has brushed past you with the dustpan

            that holds the puzzle piece you didn’t know was lost.



Saturday, March 12, 2022

A new discovery about an OLD item

As far back as I can remember, my father had an intriguing desk. Called a "Governor Winthrop" style, it had a dropdown desktop that folded at an angle when not in use. Before it was Dad's, it was his father's, and when my mother died, she specified in her will the desk was to be mine. Thus it came to live with the Glerums in 1969.

It very much looks its age--a century plus, but I don't know its exact provenance. Not only is its finish badly worn and marred, but its legs were chewed on by our family dog in the late '50s. Our English bulldog, Winston, apparently found comfort in gnawing away at the claw-like legs when we'd leave him alone too long. The desk resided in the part of the house that Winston was confined to when alone, so there wasn't much we could do but scold him when we noticed the increasing damage. Of course, it never happened when we were home.  

The decorative cupboard door
You'd think I'd know the nooks and crannies of a piece of wood furniture after living with it for eighty years and owning more than fifty, but yesterday it surprised me. One of the desk's delightful features (and why I have loved it since childhood) is its six slots, five tiny drawers, two secret compartments, and one tiny cupboard inside the dropdown area. For as long as I've had the desk, I've kept tickets to performances in the tiny cupboard at its center and, because of it, I've never misplaced hundreds of paper tickets issued for a season or a one-off performance. Until yesterday.

I intended to get out my old-fashioned paper tickets (you know the kind, maybe 1.5" x 4") for an event this weekend. I pushed aside several folded, home-printed tickets for other events, saw the little envelope I was looking for and went to grab it. But, wait . . . I had just seen it, but it was gone! The small envelope seemingly vanished, which I substantiated by taking everything out of the compartment and reexamining the contents of several envelopes, flyers and pamphlets. What the f - - k!

Probing around with a flashlight helped me realize there was a small gap in the back of the little cupboard. I concluded the tickets must have somehow slipped through to the back of the writing surface underneath the cupboard. But even scraping a ruler underneath that area, I found no tickets! (I did find several rubber bands, a paper clip, a bookmark and a museum guest pass lying there, though.) Next, I opened the top main desk drawer, wondering if the tickets had fallen through to that drawer, but--no--still no tickets! 

Next I removed the drawer where, sure enough, the ticket envelope was lying on its supporting wooden shelf that separates it from the next large drawer. In addition to the tickets were several other larger pieces of paper, two with dates on them that put them back to 2012 and 2013! The two dated sheets were too big and unimportant to ever have put in the locked cupboard, so  I have no idea how they got there. 

I can't remember ever taking out the drawers except when preparing the desk for a move. The last time that happened was 2010. But I'd never dreamed an item in the little locked cupboard could make its way into hiding in an instant, a poof! My point in writing this? For me it's a smack-in-the-face lesson: Never, ever, take anything for granted. For you, it might be a lesson in how aging brings on a recalibration of what's exciting enough to spend time writing about it. (EEK!)