Joy in Each Breath

November 12, 2014

Photo courtesy Heri West

Introduction by Ted Kooser: Joe Paddock is a Minnesota poet and he and I are, as we say in the Midwest, “of an age.” Here is a fine poem about arriving at a stage when there can be great joy in accepting life as it comes to us.

One’s Ship Comes In

I swear
my way now will be
to continue without
plan or hope, to accept
the drift of things, to shift
from endless effort
to joy in, say,
that robin, plunging
into the mossy shallows
of my bird bath and
splashing madly till
the air shines with spray.
Joy it will be, say,
in Nancy, pretty in pink
and rumpled T-shirt,
rubbing sleep from her eyes, or
joy even in
just this breathing, free
of fright and clutch, knowing
how one’s ship comes in
with each such breath.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2009 by Joe Paddock from his most recent book of poetry, “Dark Dreaming, Global Dimming,” Red Dragonfly Press, 2009. Reprinted by permission of Joe Paddock and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2011 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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  1. Dear Kathy - great poem for reminding us to accept the things we cannot change and enjoy the moments as they come. Hope you are having a happy day. Hugs!

  2. Glad you liked it, Debbie. Hope you're having a happy day, too.

  3. Beautiful wording in this poem, as if every breath was a Zen meditation.

  4. Elizabeth--Yes, good way to describe it.