Mindy Greenstein Ph.D.

The Flip Side

The House That's on Fire

A poem of mindfulness

Posted Feb 10, 2014

You know, doc, he says,

Firemen make the best cooks.

We sit around most of the day

Waiting for the bell to ring.

We cook, we eat, and we wait.

And when the bell rings,

We’re the guys

Running into the building

Everyone else

Is running out of.

What did that feel like,

I ask the fireman with the tumors in his gut.

Doc, he says,

You got to overcome your fear

Of the house that’s on fire

If you’re gonna do your job.

I sat on a bench in the park

The other day,

he continues,

Next to an old man.

The sky was blue and the bench was green

and there was a nice cool breeze.

Mothers pushed children on the swings in the playground.

Beautiful spring day we’re having,

I said to the old man.

Son, the man told me,

when you’re eighty-seven years old,

every day you wake up

is a beautiful spring day.

Yes, I said to the man, I’m sure it is.

He didn’t know I would never be eighty-seven.

He didn’t know I was afraid.

But it sure was

A beautiful spring day.


Image credit: Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection