By Carl Dennis
To live each day as if it might be the last
Is an injunction that Marcus Aurelius
Inscribes in his journal to remind himself
That he, too, however privileged, is mortal,
That whatever bounty is destined to reach him
Has reached him already, many times.
But if you take his maxim too literally
And devote your mornings to tinkering with your will,
Your afternoons and evenings to saying farewell
To friends and family, you'll come to regret it.
Soon your lawyer won't fit you into his schedule.
Soon your dear ones will hide in a closet
When they hear your heavy step on the porch.
And then your house will slide into disrepair.
If this is my last day, you'll say to yourself,
Why waste time sealing drafts in the window frames
Or cleaning gutters or patching the driveway?
If you don't want your heirs to curse the day
You first opened Marcus's journals,
Take him simply to mean you should find an hour
Each day to pay a debt or forgive one,
Or write a letter of thanks or apology.
No shame in leaving behind some evidence
You were hoping to live beyond the moment.
No shame in a ticket to a concert seven months off,
Or, better yet, two tickets, as if you were hoping
To meet by then someone who'd love to join you,
Two seats near the front so you catch each note.
From this week's New Yorker. Dennis published his New and Selected Poems in 2004.
It was very hot again on Memorial Day and traffic reports indicated a lot of people downtown and around Arlington Cemetery, so since Mount Vernon finished its sheep-shearing on Saturday, we decided to put off going there and went to a farm closer to home to pick strawberries. Homestead Farm doesn't have anything like Mount Vernon's grazing fields, but it has goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, and various other animals (no sheep this time, perhaps due to the heat), so we went to visit them before we took the tractor out to the strawberry patch where there were plenty of ripe berries and many more green ones just beginning to emerge:
We happily joined the people picking berries.
Son found this large mutant berry.
Since it was so hot, we rode the tractor out from the farm store.
The farm also has adorable ducks...
...and piggies, though they seemed warm and sleepy this afternoon.
Here are my kids greeting one of the goats at Homestead Farm...
...and Adam feeding another one.
My parents invited us over for barbecue and corn, and we brought the strawberries and navy beans, then made s'mores (which don't work so well over a gas grill, though I am happy to report that vegan marshmallows heat just as well and taste just as good as Kraft marshmallows with gelatin). I had a mini veggie "crab cake" too, and sesame noodles, so I ate way more than I should have! At home the kids had homework to finish; we watched Lost Treasures of the Ancient World on PBS, since the episode was "Mayans and Aztecs" which interested Daniel when he studied them in history. I can't watch the news, it's making me throw up.