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Randall Jarrell - Next Day

Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical
Food-gathering flocks
Are selves I overlook.  Wisdom, said William James,

Is learning what to overlook.  And I am wise
If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
And the boy takes it to my station wagon,
What I've become
Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.

When I was young and miserable and pretty
And poor, I'd wish
What all girls wish: to have a husband,
A house and children.  Now that I'm old, my wish
Is womanish:
That the boy putting groceries in my car

See me.  It bewilders me he doesn't see me.
For so many years
I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me
And its mouth watered.  How often they have undressed me,
The eyes of strangers!
And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vile

Imaginings within my imagining,
I too have taken
The chance of life.  Now the boy pats my dog
And we start home.  Now I am good.
The last mistaken,
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind

Happiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm
Some soap and water--
It was so long ago, back in some Gay
Twenties, Nineties, I don't know . . . Today I miss
My lovely daughter
Away at school, my sons away at school,

My husband away at work--I wish for them.
The dog, the maid,
And I go through the sure unvarying days
At home in them.  As I look at my life,
I am afraid
Only that it will change, as I am changing:

I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me
From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,
The smile I hate.  Its plain, lined look
Of gray discovery
Repeats to me: "You're old."  That's all, I'm old.

And yet I'm afraid, as I was at the funeral
I went to yesterday.
My friend's cold made-up face, granite among its flowers,
Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body
Were my face and body.
As I think of her and I hear her telling me

How young I seem; I am exceptional;
I think of all I have.
But really no one is exceptional,
No one has anything, I'm anybody,
I stand beside my grave
Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 215 times | Comments and analysis of Next Day by Randall Jarrell Comments (3)

Next Day - Comments and Information

Poet: Randall Jarrell
Poem: Next Day
Poem of the Day: Dec 29 2007

Comment 3 of 3, added on July 13th, 2013 at 7:50 AM.
Nice Blog!

I really like that topic that you posted. It was a really cool read for me.

asseryloons from Faroe Islands
Comment 2 of 3, added on August 11th, 2012 at 6:05 PM.

Shelley Gagne - Hi Heidi! I am so glad that Caimbrin introduced us and it was a pealsure to meet you. Your work is really good and I am definitely interested in it. As far as a love quote goes, I have several favorites .here is one of them: The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. Good luck with everything and your site is awesome!June 28, 2009 4:58 pm

Apriel from Andorra
Comment 1 of 3, added on July 6th, 2005 at 1:56 PM.

A poem to ultimately about the futility of judging oneself and others through the prism of time.
Lots of people see the ravagesof time in their eyes, their face, their bodies and long for what cannot come again. This peom to me is about self-acceptance, which in the final analysis is something that we all should embrace as soon as we can, for their is, when you think about it, no other option. --Richie Begin

Richard Begin from United States

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