One Perfect Thing

I picked up a book of Jack Gilbert’s poems the other day.  I’m not saying you have to do the same thing — there are poetry people and I-never-read-poetry people, and I’m the former — but this one purchase has made a gray week seem brighter, suddenly.

If you too are having a tough week, I recommend finding your own Jack Gilbert.  Whoever that might be.

Image from the "Roamin A's/Part 1" series, Cait Fary


Jack Gilbert, 2009

While he was in kindergarten, everybody wanted to play

the tom-toms when it came time for that. You had to

run in order to get there first, and he would not.

So he always had a triangle. He does not remember

how they played the tom-toms, but he sees clearly

their Chinese look. Red with dragons front and back

and gold studs around that held the drumhead tight.

If you had a triangle, you didn’t really make music.

You mostly waited while the tambourines and tom-toms

went on a long time. Until there was a signal for all

triangle people to hit them the right way. Usually once.

Then it was tom-toms and waiting some more. But what

he remembers was the sound of the triangle. A perfect,

shimmering sound that has lasted all his long life.

Fading out and coming again after a while. Getting lost

and the waiting for it to come again. Waiting meaning

without things. Meaning love sometimes dying out,

sometimes being taken away. Meaning that often he lives

silent in the middle of the world’s music. Waiting

for the best to come again. Beginning to hear the silence

as he waits. Beginning to like the silence maybe too much.


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