I have no good reason to be happy tonight.
It’s raining again — or still, if you prefer.
I’m tired from an interrupted night of sleep, and a long, busy day.
My sweetheart is stuck in Detroit when he should be here.
I’m at the leading edge of a busy week and my house isn’t clean.
And still, all is well.
I sat down here and felt a small kernel of happiness well up inside of me, unexpected and maybe undeserved after all my grousing today about the weather and my to-do list. But I’ll take it anyway.
I’ve been thinking about Jane Kenyon all day, because it’s her birthday, and I love her poems, and I wish she were still alive to write new ones.
And I’m grateful she wrote this one, as if just for me, this night.
There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.
No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.
It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
–Jane Kenyon, from Otherwise: New and Selected Poems