Over the summer, my family and I got to have dinner with a friend from way back, someone we hadn't seen in years. He and his wife (whom we hadn't met) joined us at an Indian restaurant one evening during our travels. Afterward I wrote this poem.
Dinner with a Friend, July 2014
You talk at dinner about what you’ve been reading,
A book on the geology of Tennessee.
You tell us about the four layers of rock in the earth
And how you can see millions of years of history
And find fossils of ocean creatures along the freeway.
You talk about the New Madrid Fault
And how a giant earthquake there like the ones in 1811 and 1812
Would destroy Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis…
In 1811 the shaking rang church bells in Montreal.
Oh, and, you say, a book about the problem of evil.
And I smile and say I remember
That’s what you were reading the last time we talked about books
Years ago when we were all in our twenties
And most of our lives hadn’t happened yet,
All those earthquakes real and figurative.
I don’t know about you, but back then I had a strange idea
That the world would pretty much stay the way it was,
That the problem of evil was mostly an intellectual one
To be discussed over our kitchen table or yours
Rather than a battleground of pain and blood,
And that the forests we hiked through and the roads we cycled
Were there to stay, solid under our feet.
These days it’s easier for me to imagine everything changing,
Buildings falling, landmarks gone, bodies in the streets,
Ocean creatures swimming down highways in a landlocked state.
I know now that someday soon we’ll all be gone.
That thought does make me shudder a little,
But it also focuses my attention on the delicious naan I’m eating right now
And how good it is to see you again.
Here's today's roundup. Happy Poetry Friday!
1 hour ago
Not to put any pressure on you, but I always get excited when I see you are sharing an original poem because I enjoy them so much! This poem is no exception.
Ruth, you made me cry with this one. Especially with the elections in the U.S. this week, and what I foresee happening down the line. Thank you from bringing me back from the brink with the last line. I salute you!
Lovely poem of affirmation, Ruth. Needed this today! Thank you.
Touching and thought-provoking, Ruth...nicely done!
This one really touched me, Ruth. I had a moment not too different from yours recently, with an old friend. So much has shifted in the world and in us since we last met, since we first met. Thank you for creating and sharing this.
I am often amazed how others cannot see that the world does change, and we should be grateful we are still here. You've shared something beautiful and heartbreaking too here in your poem.
Amazing poem, Ruth. I agree with all the comments. It is so hard to watch what is happening in our world. To me, your poem expresses that all we have is now and enjoying what we've been given in this moment may be the antidote to fear and uncertainty. Thank you for sharing.
In his new book THE BONE CLOCKS, David Mitchell paints such a real picture of what our world might be like in 30 years, that I (like you, at the end of your poem) am starting to believe that he has foretold the future. Grim. Makes me VERY glad I don't have children to leave in this mess we've created. But YES to the naan we are sharing right now in this moment. Yes.
Tabatha spoke my feelings as well, Ruth. It's always such a treat to read your original poems. They wash over me in such a rush of truth, beauty, and understanding. I don't know if I can explain it any better than that, but I always feel like I come out of the experience changed somehow. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing this moment in time and putting things in context.
Wow, thank you, everyone, for all the kind comments.
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