"There are no years!" These are the words I heard spoken by Yevgeny Yevtushenko when he visited the University of Arkansas over 20 years ago. From that day forward, those four words have become my mantra. The thirty years and 2,000 miles that physically separate my daughter and me dissolve as we text back and forth, reveling in how often we are thinking, doing, or dreaming the same things. In this way I've come to recognize that years cannot divide any of us — from generation to generation we pass on our gratitude for all the large and small wonders of our world, from the glow of the sun to the simple act of peeling a mango. I hear resounding in Martha's voice the voice of Robert Browning in his poem "Pippa's Song":
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven —
All's right with the world!
— Marie Silano
those are angels lighting up
the neon, the eroding E
on your laptop keyboard. Not
a ghost, not a sign, but one
of God's bonafide lackeys.
What if the prominence
and the coronal hole told each other
they were beautiful? What if this
was the beginning of an eclipse?
Misery might have wings,
but it also has a mane, antlers,
a muzzle. Sometimes a shell
holds a current of melting doubt,
a slurry of cinnamon-colored truth.
Praying can happen at any time,
peeling back the leathery skin,
slicing into a mango. The years
marry all the sunsets since
the very first — every green flash,
whether or not they exist.