‘To steal’, the sage declares, ‘is to take things
not given consciously with pleasure’.
Several times my eye has skimmed over this,
with thoughtless affirmation; then today
it hit me like a burst of consciousness.. for
yesterday the hairdresser made her regular visit
for which I’m enormously grateful; yet,
I resent her presence in the house:
sharply scorning all my attempts
at friendly small talk (what a payback
for those sessions of ‘Doing anything special
this weekend, Sir? ’ ‘Going away this year? ’
which I in turn, used to resent..)
Last year she was happy to talk about her teenage son,
ice-hockey wizard; now she slaps any such questions
back in my face… “ ‘ee’s at school now innee? ”
But now my resentment has been named:
hoping to treat every visitor as an honoured guest,
I feel instead a thief in my own house..
How different from the weekly visit of
Mr. Organic Fruit and Veg –
product of three different races, so he tells me -
whose smile lights up a week of days in memory..
Just suppose that we could choose to avoid
all those who do no more than exchange
their ‘goods and services’ without a smile..
who do not see their job as
‘giving consciously with pleasure’..
Gone the days of cheeky, chirpy,
cheerful, cocky Cockney ticket collectors
who turned a busload of passengers
into a performance art.. giving
their service consciously with pleasure
and returned by all..
In my first philosophy class,
seeking to position myself as the class joker,
(in the days when ‘waking up’ was our first task)
I smugged this observation about being so ‘asleep’
that in the morning at the tube station,
I said thank you to the ticket machine…
Maybe I was onto something there.
So, a resolution; never now merely to ‘hand over’, but
to give consciously with pleasure..
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem