Monday, September 9, 2013

The Finest Thing

High Angle Rescue Drill, Firefighter Ian Wagner
Photos © 2012 Ian and Jennifer Wagner Family

On the deck
sipping the last of summer
from my glass of iced coffee,
I’m drenched in a moment
of luscious sunshine,
one of the few left before
autumn’s return.

I’m watching our youngest boys
with delight—
plastic swords and shields in their hands,
attacking The Alien, also known as
the small green sprinkler
with four arms
and a mind of its own.

A miniscule, slate blue butterfly
flits by
and then a larger one, white and clumsy—
meanders by too.

Does it know where it’s going? 
I like thinking it doesn’t,
it just floats along, discovering.

But I know as I watch
two crows
wave west over my roof,
looking so purposeful,
that there are jobs to do, of course—
and each one of us has our own.

A neighboring apple tree
is nearly full of green-gold apples,
three Asian pear trees are laden too—

our Polynesian neighbor
will fill sacks full of the succulent fruit soon,
drop them off on our porch,
with his brown-sugar fingers
and white smile, wrinkled.

My contentment spreads,
a drunken, giddy peace
in the listening to leaves rustling—
still clinging, green, to trees.

They will fall soon enough,
as time keeps its own pace.

I’ll savor this good day
with the gray day of remembering looming,
ashy, grating,
for the grief of
New York’s Bravest, Best and Finest
and all who fell too soon.

But real, too, is the spirit
of what is the best of us.

And that has lived on.

I know it
in the browned fingers of giving,
in the bright laugh of the innocent,
and in your mouth on my neck—

like a breeze,
like sunshine.

I am reminded,
here, in this moment,
not eclipsed
by any large, evil scheme,
that come what may,

some will continue to Give,



And that is still The Finest Thing
on any given day.

© 2013 Jennifer Wagner


  1. I love your description of the leaves still clinging to the trees...such a lovely description of the impending and inevitable beauty of autumn. Here's to sipping the last of summer from our iced coffee :)

  2. I loved your musings on the butterflies' intended directions. Had never thought that way. A really moving tribute-bravery will win in the end.

  3. smiles...this just feels good to read you know...i love the rather nice afternoon...the boys playing...taking it all in...feeling content and just letting life happen...and so tru on the end as well ...and those that will sacrifice and give...

  4. This left me with such a sense of gratitude for the small part of this world I share,for my family and the goodness in people who risk their lives each day for us. Just beautiful Jennifer.

  5. An utterly lovely capture, with a stirring, life-affirming message.

  6. A beautiful and life-affirming tribute. Well done!

  7. This is beautiful, Jennifer. I remember 9/11 with sadness each year; but as your poem addresses we really have to savor 'each good day' that we live and appreciate the leaves (of life) while they are on the tree; as eventually they will fall, as will we all. And yes, there are those who will continue to give and love, and for those we must always be thankful. Despite our remembering the day that was!

  8. have an alien very their fantasy...smiles.. i like how you make us feel the afternoon and how your thoughts mingle into this...thinking of those that gave their life, those that serve.. we can be so thankful

  9. Wow, I will never tire of poetry that is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes. This is absolutely lovely.

  10. I think your have captured perfectly those last days of summer before we fall into autumn.. we have had the same type of days here in Sweden too. but the autumn is close and you feel it in the air...

  11. Well written. Kept my attention the whole read.Loved the way you ended.>KB

  12. I love the nostalgic feel of late summer, and you've captured it perfectly. Well done.

  13. you took me right into that moment
    feeling the coolness on my tongue

    truly loved the lines

    "But real, too, is the spirit
    of what is the best of us."

  14. Life is bliss and one savors it fully! It leaves an impression in memory. Great capture Jennifer!


  15. Your description of the children brought me back to my childhood; I was always imagining monsters & saving the day. This was a very touching poem, brought me to a nice place.

  16. Peace and respect, Jennifer, come through this write clearly. ~ M

  17. This is just beautiful... I felt like I was there, experiencing it right along with you. Very calming and filled with light.

  18. Nice descriptive slice of life ... or fruit. I did not realize what day it was. Nice tribute too.

  19. I like the description of the butterflies meandering by
    floating on the way to discovery.

  20. Truly a beautiful account of autumn approaching and the anniversary of such great loss still fresh in our thoughts.....liking the meandering butterfly and green apples and 'sipping the last of summer' ;)

  21. This is exquisite. Simple pleasures - watching your sons, and then you include us in your thoughts! I find this poem very exciting - it rambles, but in the most artistic way - the observation is fantastic... I am bookmarking this, need to "study" it more. I just bought quite a few books by Mary Oliver (I see her on your sidebar).

  22. The Alien sprinklers with arms - that took me back. Your imagery was lovely, the detail -with his brown-sugar fingers and white smile, wrinkled.

    Your day slipping slipping from pen to paper as you observe the beauty around you. A beautiful tribute also- Thank you Jennifer.

  23. Beautiful, Jennifer, and thanks for reminding us that we can refuse to be defined and limited by the worst of us; we can rise and be so much better than that if we choose to.

    Thanks too for the chance to sit on your porch and share a precious moment in your life.

  24. Your poem was v. moving for me: your precise details (the green sprinkler, the Asian pear, the iced coffee, etc.) blended with wise words.

    Does it know where it’s going?
    I like thinking it doesn’t,

    I am reminded,
    here, in this moment,
    not eclipsed
    by any large, evil scheme,

    Thanks for reminding us!

  25. Love the happiness of this poem! Helps to balance the day. I used to have a Polynesian neighbor who invited us over for some "pig" and when we showed up, the pig was still running around the back yard.

  26. A gentle reminder, filled with light and hope. Thank you.

  27. What an intimate snapshot you have shared, and with the thoughts and memories so vividly described. Well done!

  28. This is extremely moving and well written.

  29. Respect is what we owe those brave people who keep us safe, Jennifer. Well said.


  30. absolutely beautiful look at life..sorrow, sacrifice and gratitude..reminds me of an article I wrote once..addressing, yes there is sorrow and loss , but there is still good, comforting, love and the beautiful to enjoy in each day

  31. ...yes... yes... very beautiful Jennifer... i love the message in your entire piece... it made me feel grateful & happy... what a lovely experience for me... excellent! smiles...

  32. A beautiful write. Their spirit lives on and this is a wonderful capture. Savor the day always.


Thank you for your thoughts!