Fall 1989 • Vol. XI No. 4 Poetry |

The Happiest Day

It was early May, I think a moment of lilac or dogwood when so many promises are made it hardly matters if a few are broken. My mother and father still hovered in the background, part of the scenery like the houses I had grown up in, and if they would be torn down later that was something I knew but didn't believe. Our children were asleep or playing, the youngest as new as the new smell of the lilacs, and how could I have guessed their roots were shallow and would be easily transplanted. I didn't even guess that I was happy. The small irritations that are like salt on melon were what I dwelt on, though in truth they simply made the fruit taste sweeter. So we sat on the porch in the cool morning, sipping hot coffee. Behind the news of the day—strikes and small wars, a fire somewhere—I could see the top of your dark head and thought not of public conflagrations but of how it would feel on my bare shoulder. If someone could stop the camera then . . . If someone could only stop the

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Linda Pastan is the author of numerous books of poetry including Traveling Light (Norton & Co, 2011). Her fourteenth collection, Insomnia, is forthcoming. She has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award, and in 2003 she won the Ruth Lilly prize for lifetime achievement.

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