Rodney Jones: Happiness Will Not Be Foregone

If not the large happiness,
the small gift;
if not the grand piano,
the banjo or mandolin;
if not A Night in Tangiers,
twilight 1966 with
my beautiful sweetheart.

But why is she slumped
in the den, running
her hair through her teeth
while her mother and aunts hold forth
on the screen porch,
praying to the God
who will kill them?

What dread mis-
fortune am I not in on?
What heart wound?
And is it too soon
to phone her awkward,
solipsistic friend?

As I languish there
in the kitchen,
occasionally tiptoeing
over to the stove
to crack open the door
and be uplifted
by a waft of peach and cinnamon.

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