Some things are wasted on me.
Good coffee, good wine.
Just give me instant coffee
and don't bother with the red/white,
sweet/dry stuff. I only pretend to like it.
If you want more than a dutiful thank you,
don't buy me a fancy crystal serving dish:
give me the ceramic bowl you made yourself,
your hand, your heart. No gadgets for the kitchen--
a knife is good enough for slicing and chopping--
and, please, no flowers for my birthday.
I have no patience to arrange them in a vase
or to care for something that will die
in a few days, a few weeks.
A good meal, on the other hand,
is never wasted on me: the taste, the colors
and shapes, like art on a plate.
Cake or cookies will win my heart.
A hug is always welcome.
A grandchild to play with and
a good book, of course. A pen and a notebook.
And, you, my family and friends,
give me your words, your stories.
I don't need more. I won't say no if you offer
to take me on a boat through the mangroves
or a jeep ride through streams, over rocks,
to a waterfall, a green river where I can swim.
Still, a chair on the beach, music in the background,
is more than enough.
The Glass Half Full
See the glass half full, we are told,
not half empty.
I will try. Here is a glass. I begin to fill it
with the scent of jasmine from my walk today
and a few squirts of juice from the lemons and loquats
hanging within reach. I add the taste of my daughter's
roasted asparagus, as well as the rose water, saffron,
and pistachio flavors of the Persian ice cream
I am served for the first time
at the home of my sister-in-law's family,
who break into a Persian birthday song
and an arm-waving dance
when they hear my birthday is approaching.
I thicken the mixture with the feel of my
husband's arm, reaching suddenly
to pull me closer. Brighten it
with my granddaughter's shrieking giggle
when I try to walk like a model
and look more like a staggering klutz.
I could add more, but perhaps it's enough
for one day, the glass already half full,
a potion of joy, pure, unfiltered,
no trace of bitter or stink of toxic,
no lumps of disappointment spoiling the taste.
I will drink it now.
Watch me glow, drunk on positivity.
Lori Levy's poems have appeared in Rattle, Paterson Literary Review, Poet Lore, Nimrod International Journal, and numerous other literary journals and anthologies, including Young Ravens Literary Review. Her work has also been published in medical humanities journals, and she has two chapbooks forthcoming in the Fall from Kelsay Books and Ben Yehuda Press. She lives with her extended family in Los Angeles, but "home" has also been Vermont and Israel.