The Writer’s Almanac appears in my email in-box as if magic brought her (I think of her as a her) to me. Sometimes I post the daily poem on Facebook, sometimes I just read it over and over, sometimes I don’t even open her message at all. I’m not a Prairie Home Companion fan. Garrison Keillor doesn’t do it for me. I like Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean so much better.
But Keillor’s got game when it comes to finding poetry to brighten my day or engage my thinking muscle.
Yesterday’s poem just made me feel good. It reminded me that not all strangers are worthy of fear, not all government employees lack imagination or a desire for excellence, and sometimes a little chocolate shared is magic, too.
At the Toll Booth
by Marilyn Donnelly
at the toll booth on the Maine Turnpike.
Someone peeps out through pleated drapes
of a swollen ebony hearse
to see if there is some mistake.
But no, attendants are moving
deftly among clogged cars
balancing silver trays heaped high
with succulent cookies
still warm with chocolate oozing
over the fluted rims.
Small dogs gather to catch the excess
as cars continue to pile up
even in the exact change lane
yet no one seems to mind the delay,
The withered face peering out
from the silent hearse
fills with delicate memories
of an uncomplicated childhood.
“At the Toll Booth” by Marilyn Donnelly, from Coda. © Autumn House Press, 2010. Reprinted from The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor
old crow of a woman in bonnet, sifting through the dump
salvaging those parts of the world
neither useless nor useful
she would be hours in the sweatlodge
come out naked and brilliant in the sun
steam rising off her body in winter
like slow explosion of horses
she braided my sister’s hair with hands that smelled of deep
roots buried in the earth
she told me old stories
how time never mattered
when she died
they gave me her clock
“Grandmother” by Sherman Alexie, from The Business of Fancy Dancing. © Hanging Loose Press, 1992
- Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies (cookin5m2.wordpress.com)
- Poetry Wednesday: A Visit with Garrison Keillor (wessonblog.wordpress.com)
- In Praise of Dogs Who Howl at the Moon, poem by John Brantingham (silverbirchpress.wordpress.com)