Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Recalling Happy” by Robert Nordstrom

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Recalling Happy” by Robert Nordstrom. Mr. Nordstrom was raised in Toledo, Ohio but currently resides in Wisconsin. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has worked as an editor/writer for various publications. His work has appeared in numerous prestigious venues, including: Upstreet, Main Street Rag, The Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, Blue Heron Review, Verse Wisconsin, and Stoneboat. His poem "Old Lovers" won the 2014 Hal Prize, and Prolific Press published his poetry collection The Sacred Monotony of Breath this year. Visit his website at www.RobertNordstrom.com.

Recalling Happy
Robert Nordstrom

A woman in the coffee shop sitting at the table next to mine
says to her friend, Tell me about a time when you were happy,
truly happy. I stare at newsprint
straining to hear her friend’s response:
not forthcoming and I’m not surprised—
the query too intimate, the response too complex,
to regurgitate on cue while masticating a bagel.
But I’m sitting alone, swimming through bad news
all black and white, and have no excuse.
So I retrieve the marked files: marriage, births of children,
sloppy-tongued puppy with a bow around its neck
running into my arms when I was eight years old.
To no avail—these days such memories feel more like
digits in a sum than highlights of a life.
I’m beginning to feel bad about my failure to recall happy
when the woman’s friend throws me a bone:
When all the pieces fit, she says softly but firmly,
nothing stands in relief.
I smile and take a bite of bagel,
recalling, for every good reason,
the clematis on the trellis outside my bedroom window,
how it grows a couple of inches overnight this time of year,
the waving fronds of the Japanese iris cheering it on.
Sheer exultation on those full moon nights
I sleep right through.

Poet’s Notes: The genesis of “Recalling Happy” was the line, “When all the pieces fit…/nothing stands in relief.” From that line, everything else in the poem fell into place.

Editor’s Note: “Recalling Happy” was originally published in Stoneboat Literary Journal.

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