Möbius, The Poetry Magazine | “Today’s Sermon is on ‘Happiness’ ” | Penelope Scambly Schott

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.

Car Tire Photo

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.

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