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Poetry from In the Moment: 'May You Live Long Enough'

This poem originally aired on "In the Moment."

May You Live Long Enough
poem by Lori Walsh
videography by Jordyn Henderson

When the snow comes, and I mean snow,
inches of snow, feet of snow

When the snow comes, may you have lived
long enough to remember other winters,
other snows, other days when the neighborhood
slept in and the children stayed home,
and no one knew how long
it would take to dig out.

May you live long enough to know
that snow blowers break, or cost too much,
or are sold out at the hardware store, and the man
doesn't know when he'll have more in stock.

May you have more than one shovel
for more than one job, and may you live
long enough to know which one to grab first.

When it gets tough, when your body starts to ache,
when you wonder how much longer you can do this,
may you have lived long enough to have more
than one painkiller stashed in your closest,
from more than one injury,
more than one memory of asking your body
to work a little harder, to do a little more.

May you be able to loosen all of the caps
on all of the bottles.

And when you are thigh deep in wet, heavy snow,
may you find the rhythm of your younger self, the one
who worked and worked and didn't worry
about the consequences, the work was embodied,
the pain wasn't. The hands gripped harder then,
the abs engaged naturally.

And when the neighborhood fathers emerge
from their garages, followed by neighborhood sons,
when boys and young men work their shovels next to yours,
laughing and teasing and throwing their backs into helping
you clear your driveway, may you have lived long
enough to know how you look to them

middle aged
maybe even
a bit

May memory and gratitude infuse you
with strength the boys didn't know you had
as you join the neighborhood shovel brigade
and may your muscles remember how to work hard
and fast and joyfully as you heave one scoop
after another into the ever-growing pile that says,
yes, we did this, we did this together.

And when the middle school boys side-glance
at you as if you might be a little bit weird,
may you remember the mystery of your own father,
the huffing of his breath as he worked, the shovel
that might have grown from his own shoulder
for all you knew, because every tool seemed a natural
extension of his very body, his very self.

May you take your place in the neighborhood.
May you take your place in your life.

May you go to bed knowing
those thirty-year-old dads
are gonna hurt like hell
in the morning, too.

Lori Walsh is the host and senior producer of In the Moment.
Jordyn is a videographer with SDPB.