Popular Music

All winter I drove to work Oh, what a beautiful morning!

singing in my head as if I believed in the power

of positive thinking.  I’d try to replace it with anything else––

hymns, Gregorian chant––but Oh, what a beautiful day!

would sling itself back into my brain as if to remind me

just where I came from—household of musicals,

Nelson Eddy, Lawrence Welk and his bubble machine.

And what exactly is wrong with mindless optimism,

with being as corny as Kansas in August, as normal as blueberry pie?

When I came home from work that December evening,

my nineteen-year-old daughter, waiting at the kitchen table

with her father, took my arm and led me upstairs

because she had something to tell me. Once she started to cry I knew

what was coming. While the moon hit the sky like a big pizza pie

I just held her.  Now she looks like she swallowed that moon

she watched from my arms as we walked the Hatteras shore

because nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina.

Hot summer, she sits in one chair, swollen ankles propped up in another,

and asks, now that the baby can safely be born, if I know how

to make it come, while inside her womb, the baby’s feet drum

Time is on my side, yes it is.  After all that worrying,

I’ve got nothing better to offer than to lean down and sing

Happy Birthday into her belly, to touch her face

and warn her she’ll be driving six white horses when she comes.