The John Robert Doyle, Jr., Prize
How We Make It Through
Notice the daffodils in the neighbor’s yard.
Comment on how they match his front door.
Take the dogs on a walk, stopping at every corner,
and when they sit without being told,
reward them the special bacon-flavored treats.
Watch old episodes of The Andy Griffith Show,
the black and white ones with Barney Fife.
During the hearings, the debates, the primaries,
when the sarcasm and lies and name-calling
climb to a peak, when people bring up her emails
again, even after four years, and when breaking news
reports another mass shooting and another glacier
melts into an ocean filled with plastic-choked fish,
volunteer to be a docent at the museum where you’ll
tour children through a gallery of impressionistic
paintings. Point out seasides and a host of sailboats
and romantic picnics and rainy Paris afternoons.
Talk about water lilies and sunflowers and quote
a sonnet you memorized when you were seventeen.
Write a letter to an old teacher, not to your favorite,
but to the no-nonsense one who made you work for an A.
Write it even if you know she passed away years ago.
Fill it with details about what you learned. Write it
in cursive on expensive stationery, and even if
you don’t mail it, stick a special forever stamp
in the corner. Enclose an old yearbook photo
so she can recognize your seventeen year old self.
Plant some daffodils of your own so that next spring
someone walking by with a dog will take a moment
to notice that something yellow and young is growing.