Joie de Vivre

Against my own staleness this
quiet sunny morning after a dull,
wet, and cold May, I recall life
affirming itself in people I’ve loved.
Dad pedalling his bike round France
with a belief in himself and love of it.
Gen looking neat and prettily dressed
singing chansons with her full voice,
her talent and the tradition lifting her.
Our daughters at different moments,
the same ages, in swimming pools,
heads emerging from water shouting confidingly
“Ja’i bu la tasse!” – the intimacy
and unconscious trust bringing us close,
while the poetic expression, no cliché to me,
surprised me both times, charming me and
creating a community and tradition
of which they and I were part, children
with or without parents larking in streams
and behind them a believed fairy-tale
in which the hero drinks from a magic cup,
a rite of passage into the fabled realm.

– John Freeman, from Landscape with Portraits