I am trying to figure out a line of Queen Margaret’s in Henry VI, Part 3 when Jesse asks me whether my hands are cold after my morning run. The line is this: “Mine, such as fill my heart with unhoped joys.”
These winter running days aren’t too bad, except for my fingers, so Jesse has been buying multiple pairs of gloves in an attempt to keep my hands warm. It’s not like him to do this. Pardon the pun, but I have been Jesse’s girl since February of 1995, and he’s not the sort to make multiple purchases in order to fix something. He gets the right thing the first time, or he’ll do the next practical thing — in this case, tell me not too run because it’s too cold.
Lately though he’s been doing some borderline (for him) impractical things: sleeping on the couch in our living room couch near our dog, Corby, when she is having a bad night; giving our daughters ski lessons (not a low-cost, easy-to-learn sport); buying a restaurant-quality heat lamp so we can sit outside (next to the fire pit he built) with friends this winter.
I hesitate, but I end up telling him that I pulled my fingers out of the gloves and balled them into fists with them still on. “That helped,” I tell him, but I can tell he thinks I’m giving him a consolation prize. “Thanks for trying,” I imagine myself saying, “Here’s a lifetime supply of hand warmers and a coupon for 5% off your next purchase of $350 or more.”
I think Queen Margaret’s line is supposed to be sad, but this morning when I first read it, I thought, what a lovely thing to have a full heart of joy that was not hoped for. I’ve been wondering if we’ve all been hesitant to hope — or even to anticipate — joy. I wonder if we’ve taken joy for granted, as if it’s dependent on hope, as if it can be stopped by whether or not we plan to experience it, on how good or bad or right or wrong we are. As if joy knows these boundaries.
I walk into the kitchen and lean against the counter next to Jesse, who’s stirring oatmeal on the stove and holding his favorite mug of freshly filled tea. He will take the oatmeal and the tea downstairs with him and eat and drink while he works.
“Lots of meetings today?” I ask, clipping my gloves together. This pair came with clips sewn into them, a selling point for Jesse because the girls and I are always looking for a lost glove.
He nods once and knocks the metal spoon he’s using to stir his oatmeal on the rim of the pot to get the excess off.
I hand him a bag of flax seeds and the jar of cinnamon. “Brown sugar too?” I ask, and he nods again.
What I like about reading Shakespeare is that since I put no pressure on myself to understand the plot, I instead focus on enjoying the language. I know enough about Queen Margaret to know she makes Lady Macbeth look like Mother Teresa’s wild and irreverent cousin, so I’m sure her words I’m contemplating have a conniving tone.
This morning, standing alone in my kitchen and realizing my husband is experiencing pandemic fatigue but is doing his best to care for his family, work for the public good, and build and maintain friendships, I’m taking the Queen’s words and using them as a manifesto: “fill my heart with unhoped joys.”
This week write a poem about unhoped joy. When have you experienced joy this week without having to hope for it?
Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s Poetry Prompt. Here’s one from Rick Maxson we enjoyed: