Drive to the Diner
Early in the morning and the sun dusts the farms with perfect light.
It has been warm and dry, a boon to the farmers in their race
to cut and bale the first cutting of hay.
The fields are plowed and covered with manure
saved through the winter. The air is ripe.
Planting will begin soon safe finally, from late frosts.
On the way to your favorite diner, you pass fields
rich with sheep and cows, and their babies prancing in the morning.
The light is crisp. The air is cool.
In the diner, all the windows are open.
You can smell the fresh cut hay as well as the bacon on the griddle.
In ones and twos, your distant neighbors shuffle in.
There is brokenness in their lives. You know much of it,
you and your confessioner’s face hear more than your share.
You feel sometimes like a priest or a bartender,
a carrier of other people’s secrets.
They change your view, these secrets. You see differently for their trust.
More compassionately. More sadly.
Your innocence traded
for honesty. A fair trade, but a hard one.
You did not have the sense to treasure your innocence,
the ease of it. The certainty of it.
Like so many things, the value was understood only after it was gone,
its cold corpse history now, pulled down from its pedestal
like statues of Lenin, fallen and shattered.
You breathe in the smell of fresh cut hay.
You savor a near perfect cup of coffee.
No, you would not trade your life of truth
for the beautiful illusion of innocence.
You would not go back.
But still, on a rare morning of perfection,
you smile at the memory, willing to pretend, for just this moment,
that all is well.
About this poem
Most readers know I spend a few mornings a week working at my favorite diner, Pawlet Station, in Pawlet Vermont. Good food. Good music. Good people. A simple place, but I like it a lot.
It was a beautiful drive this morning. I feel blessed to live in a place of peace and beauty. But it is not a perfect place. Troubles are the same everywhere. Ours just have a pretty landscape.
The picture of the silos was taken about a quarter mile from my diner.