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.