Happiness, Neil Bernstein

Marilyn Higginson, Sunrise in Fog, Oil on Wrapped Canvas, 40 X 50



It can’t be hedged, you spend it in each stillness,
the ones you overlook, the meditation
cushion, the line at the bank, the cluttered couches
where your daughter’s toys are rainbows round your heads,
it’s the vape cloud over your face, there’s no discarding
what’s baked into your cheeks.
                                                                 For the older guys
who stare at you from the pictures you forget to dust,
it was the fizz of soda in double Scotches,
mink fur hats, the Caddie, the things you thought
you needed, the second wives, the newly baked
popovers filled with cream, which they could eat
without limit, the beauty of those men’s long arms,
their faces as intent while sawing boards
as monks at prayer.
                                        You adjust joy like a silk wrap
to shield your eyes from suffering, you want to stand
above yourself, unfurling like a wave
over your loved ones, it’s unboundedness
that frightens you, endless as the hurricane tide
off Jockey’s Ridge that whirled you like a toy,
and the fear that happiness will not return
when it dances away, just as you know
that all things that we love must pass from us.

Neil Bernstein


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