by Theodora Goss
Sometimes I consider the gifts I’ve been given:
life, first of all, then health, which lets me stride
through the world thoughtlessly — a little too much so.
Talent, I think, but that’s for you to decide.
An education my grandmother never imagined,
although she would be shocked I can’t embroider
a flower on a tablecloth while sitting properly
in an immaculate parlor. I’d like to show her
what I can do, despite my deficiencies — capture
flowers in a poem: turn roses into metaphor.
Wealth and security my grandfather,
who saw Budapest bombed in World War II,
never knew — he never even drove a car.
The question, of course, is what to do with these gifts,
although as far as I know they’re freely given,
no payment asked, as we are given rain.
And language, which I put on like a coat
of magic feathers in which I can fly,
feeling as though I’m up there with the geese
or Icarus, in the grand, dangerous sky,
thankful for the air supporting me,
thankful to the giver of gifts, who is also
the mother of poets. She made me what I am,
so this poem is itself a prayer — an inadequate one.
None of these are things I deserve or earned,
so I guess the best return I can make is to be
what she made me, however imperfectly: the person
who wrote this poem — a speck of dust, but singing.
(The painting is The Reader by Arthur Meltzer.)