Today’s Sermon is on Happiness
By Penelope Scambly Schott
Migration Issue, 2015
Nothing you have done
is worse than anyone else,
or else you meant well
and you just didn’t know any better.
But now you are learning.
You keep gift wrap in your closet
and jumbo shrimp in your freezer
because who knows?
Life is hard,
or what a blessing to be alive on this earth,
or life is a learning experience
but only if you learn.
So today you drive a rough dirt road
where weeds catch in your bumper.
There’s this rock between the ruts
but you get out and move it.
The next rock is too big to move
and might scrape your oil pan.
If you know anything about happy,
you are stopping right here.
Leave your car, keys in the ignition,
and tromp through sage brush.
Unlatch the old cattle gate and keep going.
Country manners: re-latch it.
See where the path disappears,
just around that far cliff?
Go on until you arrive at that one edge
where you can peer all the way down
into the river canyon. For years
you have wanted to discover
this viewpoint. Way down below you,
the Deschutes whitens over rapids.
You put a small stone in your pocket
and go back to the car. Oh, happy, happy girl,
drive bad roads and always change your oil
twice as often as the manual instructs.
Penelope Scambly Schott’s most recent book is HOW I BECAME AN HISTORIAN. She lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon where she teaches a notorious poetry workshop.