Favorite thinks I’m dating him for his car and his ability to apply a quote from UHF to nearly any situation. I’m actually dating him for his ability to recite the following piece of loveliness… among other reasons too copious to list here.

If You Knew
by Ellen Bass

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm
brush your fingertips
along the lifeline’s crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.

A friend told me she’d been with her aunt,
They’d just had lunch, and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

Ellen Bass has a book out, The Human Line. I vote we go get it. Who’s with me?
My prayer for you, for us, this week is that we remember to touch each other, remember to notice, remember to see.


  • thatoneguy September 13, 2010 at 10:07 am

    >It's a strange tension, the urge to "live like you were dying" and the common-sense mantra that "life goes on."

  • Lisa P September 13, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    >I'm with ya.

  • rawster September 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    >Thinking like this makes me want to leave work and go touch everyone I love. I actually might start creeping everyone out I'd be touching them so much. But I might be okay with that. So if I start touching you and giving you high fives all the time, you'll know why.

  • thatoneguy September 14, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    >Maybe talk to the husband about that first…

  • thatoneguy September 17, 2010 at 4:23 pm