I don't know what "happiness" means. How to answer, if you are a poet?
Maybe you say, that day in November when I was sixteen and I ran through the fields and the sky gathered me up....
Ok, you're thinking cliche. I get it. So, let me try again.
I open a book in the college library and there I find a poem by James Dickey that pulls me in like a lasso. Friday night on campus, everyone else on dates, getting drunk at frat houses. I am what you might call happy to sit in silence, nobody else in the stacks, reading this poet named James Dickey.
But-- Oh, no, James Dickey is not politically correct. Sorry. He was a boozer, treated his women badly, his own gift shabbily.
So, instead I open another book and Federico Garcia Lorca pulls me into "verde, que te quiero verde," and I follow it all the way to the end and later declare my major in Spanish, only to change it to art because I have fallen in love with Kandinsky, only to change it to English because I have fallen in love with Beowulf, Wordsworth, Hopkins.
Let me tell you about the time I walked with a man in October, all the leaves burning, and thought I had entered a sacred wood......but that ended in marriage, and we all know, if we watch enough t.v. or read enough contemporary fiction, that marriage does not lead after nearly 40 years to real "happiness." Whatever happiness is.
So, I stand in my kitchen, this New Year's Eve and watch the trees, naked as I want my words to be right now, waiting for a a little light, a little green. And I wonder, am I happy? The sky is gray, the way I like it this time of year. There's soup on the stove, bread in the oven. I don't know if this makes me happy. But here in this cluttered kitchen, the girl running through the field, the young woman falling in love, the old dead grandmother smiling down at me from the photo over the counter come together in the scent of bread rising, soup simmering. They do not ask if I am happy. They ask if I am still alive.