Clyde and Leonore

Clyde and Leonore were taking me with them to a gathering held in Clyde’s home church, at Plainview. Clyde was on the board of trustees at the church where I had begun as the pastor. A licensed lay minister, I was called, in those days. Clyde had been the first person ever to introduce me as his pastor: This is Mary, our pastor. These had been sweet words to the ear of a first-time minister unsure of her place in the world.

But it was Leonore, on this day, looking out the passenger side window, who told me of her cousin, whose name I have now forgotten. The cousin likes to come to visit and always says what beautiful country surrounds the town of Plainview. To some, the idea of looking out over a grassy plain is too…plain; they think of a view as mountains, forests, rivers, although a lake or even a pond is nice enough.

“She sees everything,” Leonore said. I could wish the same, to see everything, to be attentive. All my life I have known there is far more beauty around me than I could ever take in. Perhaps this knowledge comes from when I was ten years old and finally fitted for eyeglasses. Astounding, to see things clearly and all at once. But Leonore’s cousin, whoever she is, surely has that gift of mindfulness.

From this came the poem, which first appeared in Nebraska Life Magazine and is the first poem in my chapbook, The Zebra’s Friend.

Near Plainview, Nebraska

Leonore’s cousin,
Leonore says,
sees everything—
and although
she lives away,
thinks this part
of the country
very beautiful.
So we look again
about us and agree
that it is.
I ponder this
for days:
how that someone
unknown to me
by such seeing
made me see
beauty in the eye
of the beholder,
if not altogether
everything.

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