Originally, the chapters in The Joy of Poetry covered a calendar year, from New Year’s to Christmas, and this was the last poem in the book. The poet, Paul Willis, has a new collection out, Getting to Gardisky Lake. I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to.
I chose this poem because it’s about playing piano, and the piano in my house has been through four students, including me. No one plays it now. But mostly I chose the poem because of the ending: “Sometimes / just a year is enough to learn / to bring joy to the world.”
The summer you were seven
you could hardly sleep
That night before your first recital.
“I’d rather break my arm,” you said.
which is what you did with an hour
to spare. We could blame the dog
who chased you into the glass door,
but that would be dumb. A wish,
you found, is a dangerous thing.
Today, eight years old and nearly
Christmas, you asked to be the first
on the program. As you sat waiting,
sunlight fell on the bowl-cut line
Behind your head. Sometimes
just a year is enough to learn
to bring joy to the world.
~ Paul Willis