Perfectly Good

"Perfectly Good" by Laura Grace Weldon

 

Perfectly Good

The chair broke years ago

leaving jagged oak

at its topmost edge.

Repairs never held and

here my youngest son sits

his face lit from within

like all God’s children.

If I could I’d fashion everything broken

into a greater whole, forming

a bridge to his highest possibilities.

Instead he eats supper

with sharp wood bristling at his ear

and when I suffer it aloud

the boy says, “It’s perfectly good.”

 

This was the mantra of my childhood.

Spoken over fat and gristle

left on my plate till I forked those last bites

in my reluctant mouth. Invoked with each

hand-me-down, though Jennifer Kling’s

mother always made me wear suspenders

at her house to spare her

my sagging trousers. Implied

in a fistful of stubby No. 2 pencils

my schoolteacher father saved

from the classroom trash can,

the same ones my mother darkened

her eyebrows with each morning.

 

Today my son helped with yard work

at my childhood home, then stopped

CSI-faced, to hold up a dark loamy figure.

My mother dismissed it casually,

“Oh, the overcoat in the azaleas.”

Her father’s moth-eaten wool coat,

good tailoring still apparent in the shoulders,

was too good to discard, but perfectly suited

to smother weeds forty long years.

 

Standing next to her in the doorway

I knew identity as something

broader than a name.

This is who we are.

Resilient enough

to chew the fat, hitch up our pants,

and raise our brows— smoothing the way

for our children the best we can.

I grew up missing my grandfather,

yet all the while his coat

lay right outside the window

arms spread wide,

keeping a place for flowers to grow.

 

Laura Grace Weldon

Find more poems in my collection, Tending. 

18 thoughts on “Perfectly Good

  1. This is who we are.

    Your poem is beautiful. Lately I’ve had several powerful reminders of memories I’d put away. This beautiful poem is another punch in the gut for me.

    It was the mantra of my childhood too. For example, the cheap sneakers from K-Mart that all the other kids called “foot burners” were “perfectly good,” even though I desperately wanted a pair of Converse All-Stars. When I saved up enough money from pulling tobacco to buy a pair on sale, my mother (bless her frugal heart), insisted that I buy them two sizes too large, so I could “grow into them.” When I was teased about that, I pretended I had really large feet. Then when I made the wrestling team but couldn’t afford wrestling shoes, I wore those jumbo Chuck Taylors with duct tape taped over the eyes (the only way I was allowed to wear them on the mat). They were perfectly good I reckon.

    And I knew identity as something broader, much broader, than a name.

    This is who we are.

    Thank you for sharing this poem. Your book is now on my must-read list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • From your description I can practically see that teenaged boy trying to plod along in too big shoes.

      Thanks for your kind words, and for sharing my poem about haying on Practicing Resurrection a few weeks ago. I’d be happy to send you a copy of my book, just email me (or use the contact form near the top of this site) with your address and it’ll be on its way.

      And I encourage others to check out Bill’s site: practicingresurrection.wordpress.com
      and Bill’s book Organic Wesley: A Christian Perspective on Food, Farming and Faith

      Like

  2. LOVE this poem, dear Laura Grace!

    Been thinking so much about you and wondering how you and your family are doing. Haven’t been on FB very much to see how Ben is coming along after his surgery. Well, I hope. Holding you all in my heart!

    a

    Liked by 1 person

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