By Carl Dennis
Don’t let the quarreling near the end
Convince you the breakup would have been predictable
From the beginning to somebody more insightful.
Remember that any suggestion back then
Of the actual outcome would have been swept aside
By the evidence that the joys you shared
With your beloved would prove enduring:
The joy on workdays of cooking supper together,
The joy on weekends of rambling the woods
With no agenda.
The silences weren’t a sign of holding back,
They were calm and easy, your thoughts
Drifting away on a stream of association
And then returning with a sprig of woodland flowers.
Here, this is for you, each said, and meant it.
And remember the climb you loved, to the ridge,
The wide view of the valley that left you both
Feeling open to whatever the day might offer.
Don’t diminish those moments now by wondering
What you could have done to make them last
Had you been attentive enough to cherish them.
You were happy back then, remember,
And knew you were happy.
What you need now isn’t the work
Of regret but the work of gratitude.
And all it takes to be grateful is to feel grateful.
Go back to the beginning and embrace its bounty.
Beneath the story of cause and consequence
Another story is pointing another way.
CARL DENNIS will read from his new book of poems, “Another Reason” (Penguin Books), at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Butler Mansion, 672 Delaware Ave. (at North Street) as sponsored by the University at Buffalo English Department. A Buffalo resident and professor of English (now emeritus) at UB since 1966, he is the author of 12 full-length collections including “Signs and Wonders” (1979), “The Outskirts of Troy” (1988), “Ranking the Wishes” (1997) and “Practical Gods” (2001), for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2002. In 2000, he was awarded the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement in American poetry by the Poetry Foundation. This is the concluding poem of his new book.