Thanks awfully

It was the timing, I suppose,
and the way that he said it
that afternoon in Cambridge
as the sun caught my spoon
at the table during teatime;
the boys were talking cricket
all around us when he looked up
and asked me for the jam.
I passed it, of course,
but his thanks across the crumpets
lifted words out of the usual
as if that quiet tone
held no thing insignificant:
"Thanks awfully, old man,"
was all he said
as if I'd really brought him
much good.
I see now it wasn't
jam that I offered but
a chance to release
the light in him:
I mean the words
shone as when an ordinary
spoon will catch
the afternoon sun.
O the smallest thing -
an incident like this
of crumpets, jam, initiative -
gives anyone the chance to stop
the tick of time
and turn it silver, glistening.
Godfrey John, who passed on recently, contributed many well-loved poems and essays to The Home Forum over the course of more than four decades. This poem, which first appeard in the Monitor in 1967, is reprinted with permission. It also appears in the first of Mr. John's two anthologies, 'Five Seasons' (Foursquare Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1977).

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