Staying Focused

by Mark Chmiel

I don’t beat myself up for not being able
To help people with aching kidneys like Tim Yau

Or not having the sophisticated savoir-faire
For community organizing like Colleen Kelly

Or not exercising the serene skill to paint and sculpt
With the vividness of Loyola Walter

Or not radiating the sure and capacious sense of history
That is second nature to Steve Tamari

Or not having the genius touch
That Joanie French gifts her students with week after week

Or not being able to create butter chicken delicacies with all the specific spices from Devon Street
Like Neeta Shenai, Nima Sheth, or Soma herself

Or not facilitating the bringing of children (o joy!)
Into this world like Christina Gebel

I remember that line from the Zeffirelli film
Brother Sun Sister Moon:

“Do few things
but do them well”


I can recognize someone’s passion
I can encourage a shy writer

I can hold a devastated friend
In the worst hour of her life

I can intuit the right time to send a friend
A certain Bob Dylan line or two

I can ask people to do things
I can pick up the bill at Northwest Coffee

So what if they’re not all that much
Staying focused—that’s the plan



Neeta Shenai working her culinary wonders