Keeping On

Tomorrow, Friday, inaugurates an uncertain future, one where, as of now, what we care about and many we care about will be affected in destructive ways. This week’s poem tries to offer what we can hold to.

Keeping On

But of course he couldn’t decide.
One thing always led to another.
Like the way the lady drove down the street.
No, more like the way the dog . . .
Well, whatever it was, it was
not nearly as traumatic as the way
the man two blocks over . . .
or was it yesterday’s mail? He was
lost, or so it seemed, until he learned
to plant onions amid the hollyhocks
and realized that sticking spoons
in one part of the garden attracted moonlight
long after the flowers had faded. And so,
he bought a hundred more spoons and
arranged them throughout the flowers.
He watered them. And watched them
stay the same. And let them
take the moonlight. And one day he realized
he’d forgotten about the lady
and the way the dog and the man two blocks
over and the mail. He found himself
smiling as he sprinkled the spoons.

–Jack Ridl

First published in The Texas Observer
Subsequently published in Broken Symmetry (Wayne State University Press)

“Keeping On” is not a suggestion to avoid the T-word. The governing image is the watering of the spoons — to care for that which creates light without fading.

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20 thoughts on “Keeping On

  1. How fun to revisit that one! And interesting to see how the given (what look to be lousy) externals and the (generous and caring) set-up affect one’s receiving the poem all over again. But me, I have butter knives to tend to, so see you at coffee–for respite–on the fateful day. Thanks, Jack. drj

    • Butter knives take the light too. They give off a direct angle, whereas,
      spoons hold it for a bit and then fan it back out. Hey, let’s mix them.

    • I’m glad to know this landed in the garden of your heart. Now,
      go plant a few spoons. It’s sure to help every time you water them.

    • Hey! That’s YOU! A gentle, resilient, hope-filled spirit.
      Thank ye!
      Plant a few. You will be glad, every time you look at ’em. Promise!

    • Tony, my man, bro, thanks a million Garcias.
      You ‘n Dona should plant a few spoons. I tell ya, it works!
      Now, I’m sending snow to you so you can get back on the slopes!

  2. Heading to March in D.C.this weekend- this provided perspective and balance to calm my fretting mind and heart- thank you Jack!

    • Soooooo joy-filled, and emboldened knowing you’ll be marching. Hell, you’ll be dancing marching!
      I’m tellin’ ya, dear Linda–plant some spoons at your place. Each time you see them, it’ll lift your good heart.
      I promise!

  3. Magnificent! Reading this in a hospital waiting room awaiting the birth of my first Grandchild.

    Feel now friends with me as I read the poem.


    • You should see us beaming! That kid has the most magical, loving grandfather and grandmother
      on this rolling on planet! Sending joy.
      Now, here’s what to do: plant one baby spoon. I mean it. It’ll bring something wonderful
      each time you two look at it.
      I promise!

  4. I’ve always loved this poem, especially the zig zags or leaps. Makes me happy to read it! And I think I’m going to get a bunch of spoons to plant in the garden – and other places where the lawn mower cannot go. So I can catch the moonlight over and over and over. Love you Jack!

    • Oh my, what a joy your message is. I’m writing to you while the T word has his
      vile hand on the Lincoln Bible. Talk about blasphemy, taking the Lord’s name in vain!
      Yes yes yes, do plant spoons. Each time you see them, your heart will warm. I promise.
      Peace, love, care always

  5. Ah, thanks for this, Jack. Needed it today, of all days.

    Thought you might like this:

    Winter’s smile was icily sinister.

    Spring’s was warmly sympathetic.

    Summer’s smile brightly inviting.

    Autumn’s was gently reflective.

    Mine is always seasonally appropriate,

    except when the climate is laughable

    as in Vermont.

    Peace and grace,

    Jeff Kellam


    • Jeff!
      Amen to your poem! And I read it and am writing just at the right time of
      this unsettling to the core day.
      Thank you so much.

    • Thanks for bringing me such a warm smile, you two good souls.
      I do recommend putting out a spoon. I love what it can stand for:
      nourishing oneself and another, stirring/mixing things together into
      something good, a way to reflect the light, a certain humbleness, a
      goodness easily overlooked. My sister made an entire spoon garden.
      A spoon greets us as go out our door. There is something about doing
      this that leads to a gentle, loving reminder.
      Peace and care always

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