the charm of 5:30
The Charm of 5:30
by David Berman
It’s too nice a day to read a novel set in England.
We’re within inches of the perfect distance from the sun,
the sky is blueberries and cream,
and the wind is as warm as air from a tire.
Even the headstones in the graveyard
seem to stand up and say “Hello! My name is…”
It’s enough to be sitting here on my porch,
thinking about Kermit Roosevelt,
following the course of an ant,
or walking out into the yard with a cordless phone
to find out she is going to be there tonight.
On a day like today, what looks like bad news in the distance
turns out to be something on my contact, carports and white
courtesy phones are spontaneously reappreciated
and random “okay”s ring through the backyards.
This morning I discovered the red tints in cola
when I held a glass of it up to the light
and found an expensive flashlight in the pocket of a winter coat
I was packing away for summer.
It all reminds me of that moment when you take off your sunglasses
after a long drive and realize it’s earlier
and lighter out than you had accounted for.
You know what I’m talking about,
and that’s the kind of fellowship that’s taking place in town, out in
the public spaces. You won’t overhear anyone using the words
“dramaturgy” or “state inspection” today. We’re too busy getting along.
It occurs to me that the laws are in the regions and the regions are
in the laws, and it feels good to say this, something that I’m almost
sure is true, outside under the sun.
Then to say it again, around friends, in the resonant voice of a
nineteenth-century senator, just for a lark.
There’s a shy looking fellow on the courthouse steps, holding up a
placard that says “But, I kinda liked Reagan.” His head turns slowly
as a beautiful girl walks by, holding a refrigerated bottle up against
her flushed cheek.
She smiles at me and I allow myself to imagine her walking into
town to buy lotion at a brick pharmacy.
When she gets home she’ll apply it with great lingering care before
moving into her parlor to play 78 records and drink gin-and-tonics
beside her homemade altar to James Madison.
In a town of this size, it’s certainly possible that I’ll be invited over
In fact I’ll bet you something.
Somewhere in the future I am remembering today. I’ll bet you
I’m remembering how I walked into the park at five thirty,
my favorite time of day, and how I found two cold pitchers
of just poured beer, sitting there on the bench.
I am remembering how my friend Chip showed up
with a catcher’s mask hanging from his belt and how I said
great to see you, sit down, have a beer, how are you,
and how he turned to me with the sunset reflecting off his contacts
and said, wonderful, how are you.
* * *
For Poetry Wednesday, here’s a poem by David Berman. I have to confess, I think of him as a sort of dude who writes poetry more than a poet. But that is perfect for this week. There shall be no fasting during Bright Week. Neither shall there be any serious poetry. There shall be no peeking at the price of the cheese when deciding which one to put in your grocery cart.
When I told Jeff I was thinking about posting this poem on my blog, he said it was a good idea, except that there was that one sort of creepy line about the girl with lotion. Then I remembered how that line does make me feel as if the poem is veering off in an uncomfortable direction. Nevertheless, weighed in the balance, this poem still expresses something of the essence of Bright Week for me this year: a sublime relief that life may be getting back to an easier version of itself, for a while at least.
After six weeks of a cupboard which, though technically stocked, managed to feel simultaneously as bare as Old Mother Hubbard’s during the Great Depression, it is nice to have chocolate, cheese, and salami just sitting around. My husband took it upon himself to make one of those absurd Paula Deen casseroles for dinner last night. It bordered on the symbolic. The belt encircling our girth of existence seems to have been let out by several notches, as evidenced by the fact that we are free–nay blessed–to use dairy fats as the perfect tool that they are for melding all manner of ingredients together at 350 degrees.
The photo is of Pascha day with good friends. There were no serious conversations that I can recall.