Bonded to a boulder, living on air and random rain, a forty-year-old lichen claims a thumbprint of space. Centuries from now it will be the size of a dinner plate, will still be young when the millennium turns– not that age applies to a thing designed to override death.
Maybe this doesn’t sound like much of a life: stuck on stone, nothing to do but make more crust. Or maybe it’s a thrill a minute, living up to all that potential.
I would like to find out, to lie on a sun-warmed rock and give myself up, to become with steady assurance all I was ever meant to be.
News of animals, their misfortunes. Hopefully she has not seen these stories. I wouldn’t know.
Broken egg yolks. I give her the perfect yellow rounds, the slightly bigger shrimp, the cookie with more chocolate chips. I am nothing if not vigilant.
Worry about her health, especially her asthma. My anxiety will not help her breathe.
Worry about my own health. The little things. My body is my job, not hers.
Silly, daily mistakes I make. Which might, at this age, cause her concern.
My soiled childhood. This is what therapists are for, to hear the words that must be said to those will not be gutted.
Behavior I regret, the pages of our book I want to rip out. Admission is not absolution. Instead of infecting her with these images, I offer myself now, the improved version, the best I can muster. So far.
Some days I don’t notice the nuthatch climbing the cinnamon scales of a pine tree, or the honeybee paused on the edge of the birdbath, drinking. Some days I see only the skim of a hamburger wrapper floating in the bayou, a chain link fence studded with plastic bags, a still gray form in the middle of the road, justifying despair. I lose some days entirely, as if this world can do without me, as if the way back is not just a few feet away, where a lime green katydid the size of a staple is waiting for my astonishment.
Many thanks to editor Corey Cook for publishing “What Is Wild” in Red Eft Review. Several of my poems have been featured in previous issues of Red Eft Review, and I am grateful and honored to be part of his fine journal once again.
I wish to thank D. Ellis Phelps, editor of the new anthology Purifying Wind, “an anthology of poetry to honor the vulture, many species of which are declining or in danger. Book represents the work of forty-three poets from six countries, many of whom are prize winning and Pushcart nominees. Poems enter the realm of many subjects including wonder, desire, love, aging, memoir, death and birth, and the natural world, to name a few. ”
I am delighted to have my poem “The Natural Order” included in this inspiring collection. Here is a video of me reading the poem. You may watch others authors reading their work on the Purifying Wind page on Amazon.
Hello again. Time to post a few more pictures. These are all done in acrylics and on natural wood, mainly pine. You can check out our Etsy site to learn more. Art is how we how we come together, and how, in these strange times, we heal.
An osprey dives over and over,
as many times as it takes to stay alive
and become incidentally superb.
Driving down the road near my house
I see them flying, a stunned fish in their claws,
as if nothing could be more ordinary
than a bird bringing home dinner.
Wings or brains,
we work with what we have.
I can’t snatch a meal from the ocean
at 50 miles an hour,
but I can plant a garden,
make stories out of thin air,
learn the difference
between an aspen and an alder.
Minute by minute,
even I can be splendid.
Sometimes they are not dead.
Sometimes they just live far away,
and even if you stopped by for a visit
what words would persuade them
of your betterment, the worth
you finally achieved?
What could they do but listen and nod,
knowing what they know?