Noe Valley Voice September 2002

Bless the Etceteras

By Leslie Steere

there were those days and years
of needing the big payoff:
torturous loves,
amazing feats of daring,
the calendar overfilled
with demands for your presence
Those days when
nothing but the ultimate
warranted your passions,
when details
were annoying as weeds in the garden:
attended to only as a means
of keeping the path clear --
that path from wherever you stood
twitching and dreaming
to wherever you thought you needed to be

bless the daily motion
of spreading toothpaste on the bristles
of a toothbrush;
the arm that lifts the hand to mouth;
the mirror that verifies
the pieces of your smaller world --
your face, towels on the rack, that chipped paint
on the wall behind you --
stand in the same relationship
as they did yesterday,
the day before,
last week.

Now bless
the getting up
and the lying down
and all those uncounted steps between --
where coffee brews
soups boil
clothes fold
children demand
     and are appeased
eyes squint against light
lights flick on against the dark
prayers are offered
     or withheld
and under the stars again
you feel the slight tilting
as earth
spills you toward another day.

Now bless now
and then.

Leslie Steere lives in Pacifica and makes a living as a technology and business editor in Silicon Valley. She survives by writing poetry in 10-minute snatches of time to share with a writing group that after meeting for more than 14 years is finally preparing a collection for print. She wrote "Bless the Etceteras" in October 2001 in response to the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. "I saw the World Trade Center collapse live on the early morning news and lived through the same two or three days of bewilderment everyone else did," Steere recalls. "More than ever, I felt blessed to be alive, in my life, in this world, aware of the importance of noticing and appreciating every detail of it."