Tipi near the Divide

Craig Childs became one of my favorite, colorful Western nature and wildscaping writers many years after our trip to western Colorado’s mountains. A hummingbird stained-glass piece we bought in Ouray from an artist just as he finished it was only one bit of memorabilia we returned with.

 

Traveling the western slopes

of the Rockies,

a few hundred yards

from the highway,

we stumble upon a tipi in a meadow

ringed by tall pines,

patchy snow,

rocky ground,

early wildflowers.

 

Twenty years later

I read a passage in a book

by wildlife writer  Craig Childs,

an adventurer,

who mentions being lost,

finding his way in a blizzard

back to his tipi

—   also near Ouray

and the Continental Divide.

 

 

Unnatural glow

My twenty-something neighbor was working on the twin reactors at Comanche Peak, near Glen Rose, about 45 miles southwest of here. Since our winds here are out of the south/southwest, if it ever spews out a plume of radioactivity, my neighborhood will likely begin to glow a bit itself.

 

Toward the end of his

tenure at nuclear plant

construction site,

 

my next door neighbor

became target of abuse.

Short-timer status

 

caused his bosses to

leave him longer and longer

with radiation

 

at higher levels

than humans are supposed

to be exposed to.

 

Even though he glowed,

it had more to do with his

heavy drinking than

 

his exposure to

radioactivity.

On the other hand,

 

did he drink for fear

of how his health would fare

once away from rods

 

of uranium fuel,

meant to bring the glow of light

to the rest of us?

 

 

Gulp

My wife and I were in a store just yesterday chatting with a young man from Liberia who said he’d not seen lions until coming to this country and seeing them in a zoo. Probably lots of folks think going to Africa means seeing lions, like lots of people think coming to Texas means seeing cowboys on horseback.

 

“Oh, yes, ma’am, of course,”

came my wife’s student’s reply,

so unexpected,

 

even from someone

recently of Burundi,

when he was asked

 

the simple question,

had he known anyone

eaten by lions?

 

 

Alchemy

O.K., the bride and groom graduated from TCU, hence the significance of the purple Blenko  hand-crafted glass pitcher, which magically made ours an emblem of the Mean Green of UNT, from which both Susan and I graduated.

Magic? Perhaps so….

 

Like quantum physics

with its logic-defying

sets of principles

 

and relationships,

when we bought the Blenko glass

purple-hued pitcher,

 

significant of

bride and groom’s alma mater,

suddenly transformed

 

was the green pitcher

we’ve had for decades, that’s now

a bumper sticker

 

for the place from which

I earned my two degrees,

and my dear wife hers.

 

 

Ecstatic play for Stan

No explanation needed for this one: cats love playing with shoelaces more than just about anything. Is there a video? If not, there should be.

 

I tie my athletic shoes

sitting on the edge of the bed

while Stan, the Abyssinian,

with his golden

world-emptying eyes

sees in the dangling

swinging laces

the unfolding of

a jungle gym,

the construction of

a ferris wheel,

the erection of

a tether ball.

Eyes darting to

loose ends and twirling loops

as they move

toward, for me,

the familiar configuration,

for Stan, the State Fair Midway,

recreated right here

in the bedroom.

 

 

Green ranger

You kind of have to wonder just where they recruited this young man to work in the new Buffalo River National Park. It’s a bit dodgy to draw a map on the side of your Park Service pickup, even if both you and the truck are green.

 

Seeking a trailhead

in the newly minted park,

we found a ranger.

 

And there, roadside in

Buffalo National River

he gave directions.

 

No paper at hand,

he carefully drew his map

on Park Service pickup

 

with a wood pencil.

He was newly minted too,

careless kid in green

 

to match his pickup,

color of his wood pencil,

the surrounding trees.

 

 

Jane Kenyon lives

We all have favorite authors and poets. Though their words have a life of their own, there is a finiteness to their lives and their productivity. Too many of my favorites have passed beyond us, and I know too much of their lives — enough to suffer each time I read in their biographies of their passing.

 

She dies again,

and I cry again

appreciating her life.

 

Like C.S. Lewis;

like Loren Eiseley;

like the aging of Annie Dillard

who announced on her website

she might not write again.

 

Each time I experience sadness.

I mourn and I cry,

aware there will be no more words,

no more books,

flowing from this favorite.

 

Their undying works,

the miracle of

their productivity,

their creativity,

 

like the still-burning candle

on Jack’s coffin

as they carried it

outside to the graveyard.

 

By the grace of God,

the wind can’t blow out,

no breeze erase

the beauty of their words.

 

 

This will be my last post for a short time, the Lord willing. I go into the hospital Friday morning early for the insertion of a plastic mesh under the muscles either side of my abdomen to seal an opening gap or three down the midline of my body where I had another surgery in May of last year. The mesh has been used successfully in this kind of surgery for the past 25 years by this excellent abdominal surgeon, and he quotes a 95 percent success rate for the surgery. I intend to join the other 95 percent for whom this has gone well, again, God willing. It’s projected I will only be in the hospital two or three days and will be back at work in two weeks after the surgery. If all that holds true, I’ll likely be back posting poetry in a week or so. Please pray for me. Jeff

 

 

In praise of normal memory (and forgetfulness)

My wife and I have the pleasure of watching favorite movies every two years or so, seeing them, oftentimes, as though for the first time. Ah, having normal leaky-like-a-sieve memory is such a blessing. Poor C.S. Lewis, quite literally could forget nothing. He reached a point at which he could identify no literary works in English worthy of a first read, and thanks to his eidetic memory he could remember everything he had ever read before — all too well…

 

Poor C.S. Lewis,

with photographic recall

couldn’t read again

 

all of the great works

— poetry, literature —

he’d enjoyed so much.

 

Whereas those of us

with limited memories

can find all things fresh,

 

giving us a whiff

of something remembered, when

we read them again,

 

surprised nonetheless

by a piece of bright language

as if we read it

 

the very first time.