Everyday is a gift
so says the plaque on the powder room wall.
Of course, there should be a space between
every and day. It is each and every
day that is the present.
But the everyday is a gift too,
wrapped in plain paper
addressed in Papermate blue,
bound in time and string,
left on the doorstep
near the mat, common as dirt and dust,
ordinary as tap water, easy to miss.
When you return to the table at the restaurant
it may have taken your seat
—look before you sit. It is there
with you in the car too, built in better
than cup holders. You can see it
out your windshield—big sky
country and rainy day commuting,
broken shoelaces and loose teeth,
salty as canned soup
and just as remarkable
unless you have specific recall of the mundane,
all happenstance and chicken fingers.
It wouldn’t be special
to get a gift everyday–what greedy
children we’d be. No matter; it hangs around
with your clothes and tags along after breakfast
like a balloon from the carnival,
or the toilet paper flagging your step,
constant companion, sometimes making you self conscious.
A gift. A prize. A favor
cheap as the tchotchke in the Cracker Jack box,
cute as Monopoly’s Scottie dog,
succinct as a vanity plate and vague as a bubblegum fortune.
It’s the balled tissue in the toes of new shoes,
noticeable only when you put your foot in it.
Or it’s a bitter process, tough-as-gristle work,
comfortable as an I-told-you-so but iridescent
like a pearl and dirty as a root vegetable.
After all, some gifts we’d like to return.
But whether it is as vexing as catsup,
frivolous as confetti,
or hard and gleaming like the solace
we get from still being alive, it
will not to be denied but remains
obvious as the banner
that boasts “sanitized for your protection.”
Sure, everyday is a gift.
Unwrap it carefully
and recycle the paper.
© Ellen Wade Beals
To Ceci, Peggy and Mo