Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Accidental Shopper

I am trying to write
on the card that goes with the present.

What do you say to a man who loves many people deeply
but finds the concept suspect?
Who has a fear of words?

And what of the gift itself?

I am bad at buying gifts.
I am impatient or dull and practical
because I can't purchase
the kind of gifts I'm really good at
making him laugh.

I started to think about gifts in general –
how one man could give me roses
when a can opener from another man
would mean as much
or more

and how sometimes the right gift
is just to tell the truth
when someone least wants to hear it
and most needs to know.

How giving up a seat on the bus is a gift
or making fun of tragedy
until you can laugh a friend
past their personal
scary graveyard.

Not pumping words into every silence
is a gift. Not always mine, of course.

And awkwardness -
mine, someone else’s
right there in front
of god and everyone,
the miraculous slapstick attempt of humans
to fit into their own skins,
the failed attempts at dignity,
the lurch and stumble into vulnerability.
When we wince in empathy
instead of laughing
that is the best gift of all.


Jessie said...

LJ, this is awesome. Awesome!

LJ said...

Really? Cripes. I thought it might be pretty bad. Thanks, Jess.

zhoen said...

Awkward eloquence.

D and I don't give event presents. We share a lovely day, and are grateful.

LJ said...

Hi Zhoen. I think the poem was at least a partial pratfall of mine. I didn't edit and I knew that it wasn't flowing quite right. But, bombs away, huh? We cannot be too precious to lurch.
I'd love not to give event presents, but we have here a person who is delighted as a kid by Christmas and can't be stopped from buying me an event gift - even though he's as bad at it as me.
But we saw each other last night, and I was reminded that I can count on him to be utterly and always his authentic self. And that's the one thing I need most.

Teri said...

this is so beautiful because it is so honest and accurate. i love the part about roses vs. can opener. i really get that. xo

LJ said...

Hi Teri. Thank you. Once a man bought me a staple gun. He was my hero for some time after that. I think I tend to view a man bearing flowers as someone who is about to have something to apologize for. Grinning.

goatman said...


LJ said...

Goatman? If you're shopping...I need a new staple gun. If not, the "amen" was really nice.