Laughter isn’t all that new—
It’s been here for a while,
Yet every time I’m struck by joy,
I reinvent the smile.
A friendly thought entreated me
While lying in my bed:
Upon my lap—much like a dog—
A question plopped its head.
If I could travel back in time
To see some famous person,
Who would I choose? and when? and why?
If time drew back the curtain—
I think I’d go back to the time
When paintings all wore scowls;
I’d pick someone who looks austere,
Whose gaze could sober owls.
What would I like to see of them?
That’s easier by half!
I’d watch that somber visage crack
When they began to laugh.
Can’t you just see George Washington,
Or Socrates, or Bach
So overthrown by laughter that
They find it hard to talk?
I wonder who the chucklers were.
Who snorted? Who would wheeze?
Whose laughter was infectious,
And whose could clear the trees?
The chances are I laugh a lot
Like someone long since passed.
And in my laugh their joy lives on,
Like echoes from the past.
And years from now when all I say
Is on my epitaph,
Someone will hear a timeless joke . . .
And three of us will laugh.