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Letters From the Congo

From the first thaw to the point in the summer where my lungs liquefy in the heat, I go to the park every possible day. Work projects, doctor appointments and rainy days aside, I’m there a lot. Often, I walk from my house to the park and back again, a round trip in excess of 4 miles. It’s such a beautiful park. It’s such a pretty walk. With the Texas weather being a study in extremes, I feel pretty days mustn’t be taken for granted and neither should my health. Running used to be my thing, albeit very slow running. My joints don’t agree so much anymore, so mall walking at warp speed is my thing. It’s equally beneficial for my noggin, too. I do some very awe inspiring deep thinking while I walk. National deficit? Balanced. Jimmy Hoffa’s body location? Solved. Home décor overhaul? Brilliantly executed. You gotta problem? Yo, I’ll solve it, while walking in the park.

Last week, I became obsessed with ranking my favorite poets/poems, while walking. Obviously, I chose Edna S. Vincent Millay as my #1. Her poem, An Ancient Gesture, is the stuff of dreams. Edna is followed closely by, duh, Langston Hughes, specifically his poem, Mother to Son. Third place, however, was a conundrum. Would it be Mary Oliver’s The Summer Day? E. E. Cummings’ [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]? Poe’s Alone? “Ahhh, but you forgot about Christina Rossetti,” I said to myself. And, there you have it. Her poem, Promises Like Pie Crust, completes the poetic trifecta. Why this one? The analogy between a promise and a pie crust gets me every time: promises being so perfect looking on the outside but so fragile and unpredictable at their core. Take for instance, the promises we make to our children. We mean to take care of them. We mean to keep them safe. We, really do. These are all pie crust pledges. Suddenly, I wasn’t ranking poets anymore. I was writing a mental letter to my late daughter, on the occasion of May 3rd, her 28th birthday.


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