Quite Early Morning, Debra Kaufman

Craig Goodworth, VČELA (bee box and drawings) 2019


Quite Early Morning


I always see bluebirds
at the cemetery now,
always nod to anyone
out walking the dog.
What tenuous threads
connect us, afraid
of another’s touch
or breathy laugh—
and just at a time,
at my age, in this age,
when I’d like to be
exuberant, open
my throat and sing out
like Pete Seeger.

It’s too late but I’d like
to ask him how
we can go on in
such dark times.
, he would say,

always love. And so
we keep on while
we live until we have
no more to give.

I would tell him about
my mother quarantined,
and how, before
she lost her words,
my sister asked her
if she was ready to see Jesus.
No! she said so quickly
we had to laugh.

Pete might assure me
the veil between worlds
is transparent, we can
pass through it forwards
and backwards. This
you already know
, he’d say.

I’d ask him to sing
and he would, with joy,
and strum his favorite
tarnished banjo, make it ring
silver in the pearly light.

Debra Kaufman


Review by Dan Overgaard

The speaker takes her morning hike, listening to Pete. What a gut-punch, that “now” in the second line—it’s too late, but the speaker understands her losses, now, their mystery and significance, now, the resonance and mystery of those connections. How precious, the pearly morning light of “now.” 

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