“French Chocolates” is one of those poems that says what you didn’t realize you were thinking until after you’ve read it. I couldn’t agree more. When I’m feeling down, spare me the platitudes and the pity, but I’ll never say no to chocolate or fine art.
If you have your health, you have everything
is something that’s said to cheer you up
when you come home early and find your lover
arched over a stranger in a scarlet thong.
Or it could be you lose your job at Happy Nails
because you can’t stop smudging the stars
on those ten teeny American flags.
I don’t begrudge you your extravagant vitality.
May it blossom like a cherry tree. May the petals
of your cardiovascular excellence
and the accordion polka of your lungs
sweeten the mornings of your loneliness.
But for the ill, for you with nerves that fire
like a rusted-out burner on an old barbecue,
with bones brittle as spun sugar,
with a migraine hammering like a blacksmith
in the flaming forge of your skull,
may you be spared from friends who say,
God doesn’t give you more than you can handle
and ask what gifts being sick has brought you.
May they just keep their mouths shut
and give you French chocolates and daffodils
and maybe a small, original Matisse,
say, Open Window, Collioure, so you can look out
at the boats floating on the dappled pink water.
What do you find most helpful from others when you’re feeling down? What rubs you the wrong way?
“French Chocolates” by Ellen Bass from Like a Beggar, 2014. Copyrighted material used for educational or therapeutic purposes.
Photo: Ecole Nationale Superieure De Patisserie official site