A hummingbird, bright green, quite lovely,
Appears out of nowhere, hovering,
Watching me water the garden. A simple act
That occupies us both. I wonder
If he is as entertained as I am?
A fine morning, this one,
A fine life here in the Sacramento Valley.
The last of the first pot of coffee today.
The morning passes. I drain
The last of the coffee in one long swallow.
It is a plain coffee mug, brown, no witty sayings
Or clever pictures adorn it. How long have I had it?
Twenty years? No, more like twenty-five.
Memory returns, like a weather front.
"Folks, here we have a memory blowing in from the east;
Expect a lot of thoughts."
I brought this mug in Sacramento a quarter-century ago,
As part of a kit for making one cup of drip-coffee at a time.
In my house, I was the only coffee drinker then,
And I was always on the run,
A quick cup and then out the door.
Decades slipped away, many days much like this morning.
The kids grew, and at some point began drinking coffee.
In middle age, my wife took to coffee as well,
And so a large coffee-maker moved in to stay.
Now the house is quiet and often empty,
But for me. And I often sip coffee all day long.
Through the years, the old brown mug remained.
I hold it up and examine it, not a crack,
Not a chip.
I set the coffee mug on the air, as if
An invisible shelf was there before me,
That only I could see.
The mug floats there at eye level.
The morning passes.
My, my—how grand is life?
A bright red ball of wax slowly melts
Under the unforgiving sun.
Old dogs play like children
And answer to names that we gave them.
The sentences we speak are whispers lacking
Adjectives and adverbs, nothing but nouns and verbs.
Civilians die in wars without names, their survivors
Have skins as thick as leather, skins like hides.
Skins with a crust. Skins without love.
The afternoon passes. The ball of wax is no more.
Watching a fall storm,
Rain falling into Putah Creek.
The cycle is a circle,
The circle is a cycle.
My, how life goes around.
Our history is overrated, and is crumbling in our hands like dried leaves. Living in the past is for ghosts, or for those who are almost ghosts. And friend, those who say that there is much to be learned from the past aren't learning enough from the present. Open your eyes and open your heart. Wipe your hands clean and move on. The past is right where it belongs.
Shunryu Suzuki said,
"It's wisdom which is asking for wisdom."
Could it be that this wandering fool called Jobe
Has really been on the right path for sixty years?
May there be enough light to see your footsteps in the darkness.
May be there be enough sound for music and speech—and laughter.
May hunger and sickness become strangers to you. This I pray.
Restraint and patience. Wisdom and diligence. Above all, kindness and generosity. May I seek out ways to practice these every day, and be thankful that I can.
—James Lee Jobe
Many thanks to James Lee Jobe for his fine poetry and photos this morning, bringing coffee to us here in the Kitchen—and ice cream, too!
Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.