A Small Moment by Cornelius Eady
A Small Moment
I walk into the bakery next door
To my apartment. They are about
To pull some sort of toast with cheese
From the oven. When I ask:
What’s that smell? I am being
A poet, I am asking
What everyone else in the shop
Wanted to ask, but somehow couldn’t;
I am speaking on behalf of two other
Customers who wanted to buy the
Name of it. I ask the woman
Behind the counter for a percentage
Of her sale. Am I flirting?
Am I happy because the days
Are longer? Here’s what
She does: She takes her time
Choosing the slices. “I am picking
Out the good ones,” she tells me. It’s
April 14th. Spring, with five to ten
Degrees to go. Some days, I feel my duty;
Some days, I love my work.
The problem with you is that you think like a poet, someone told me once. He thought he was on to something, that by saying so the sky would come crashing down. You see the world like a poet, you love like a poet—how will you ever survive?
Yes, I do spend my days looking out my window, daydreaming about words. When I’m washing the dishes, when I’m taking out the trash, when I’m weighing two onions in my hand at the grocery, when I’m sweeping all my fallen hair, when I’m watching a bug crawl along a leaf’s edges—I am filled with words, words.
I’ve spent most of my life asking what and why and how. I am not like a poet, I am one. I was always looking, always listening, always loving.
This poem appeared in Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems by Cornelius Eady, published by Putnam, 2008. Shared here with profound gratitude.
“Cornelius Eady’s poems show him in full control of his considerable talents and displaying a rich maturity as he enters midlife. His poems are sly, unsentimental, and witty, full of truths that are intimate and profound. Hardheaded Weather ranges widely, reflecting the new found responsibilities Eady has assumed as he transitions from urban renter to nonplussed rural homeowner, as well as the sobering influence of war and the intimation of his own mortality. Yet even at his angriest, the poet has always had a depth of compassion rare in our polarized age, with a sense of humor that is both sophisticated and demotic. These poems will resonate deeply.”
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