Life is the Only Way

by Susie Whelehan | The Sky Laughs At Borders

Life is the Only Way


after Wislawa Szymborska 


Life is the only way to catch that last wave at Wasaga

Beach and ride it full length

into the shallow water, where you pull yourself up,

walk on the cool, wet sand

then the hot, dry sand, sink

onto a warm towel and catch

your breath.

It is the only way to drink water from the fountain

in the park after a long walk,

to drink Lemon Ginger tea from your favourite mug,

to take a sip of wine from a chalice at Mass.

It is the only way to see the Northern Lights,

Monet’s Water Lilies, your lover’s smile…           

to hear waves, thunder, whispers, loons,                        

The Hallelujah Chorus                              

and Aretha Franklin.

It is the only way to smell onions frying on the stove,

a campfire, lilacs,               

the only way to count the stars in Orion’s Belt,

the days till Christmas,

the cost of ignorance and fear.

It is the only way to practice Pachabel on the piano,

Emily Carr on the canvas,

Astaire and Rogers on the dance floor

and Gandhi in the world.

It is the only way to binge watch Derry Girls on Netflix—


the only way to feel the forgiveness

in the hug after the apology.

Life is the only way—               

whether you are 16 at the back of the classroom

or 66 with a group of friends—

to laugh so hard that there is one whoop of inhalation

and then—   


Complete silence…

head shaking, body trembling, wholly possessed

by Hilaria, the Goddess of Hilarity

while trying so hard

not to snort or pee. 

It is that good.

(c) Susan Whelehan