A Friend’s Memoir
Reaching toward me like a lost remembrance
your book stirs my mind’s eye of the past. . .
I saw you, belligerent, a small native American castoff,
stiff in the arms of my Jewish friend who’d prayed for a child.
Were you the answer to the puzzle that left her barren?
Was she too old to nurture a gift, sight unseen?
And could this bond create a loving father
from a husband often careless with his vows?
Today, you remember that you threatened to run away,
and she cautioned you to take warm clothing. . .
then asked would you be home for supper?
When you told her you planned to try marijuana
she said she’d always been curious about it herself.
Would you mind bringing home enough to share with her?
You threatened suicide and she said she would die
of a broken heart if you even considered it. You lay in her arms
that night and talked until your problems diminished.
Much later she died in your arms of a hideous brain tumor.
Today you have your own family, a garden with roses
she’d nurtured and vegetables she taught you
to cultivate. You find yourself answering questions
your sons ask in much the same way she did.
Your memoir answers all the troubling questions
that bothered me the day you pointed arrows
at the world the white man chose for you.
Love and peace ride with strange companions.
(What A Harvest of Reflections reveals about my fears for this long ago neighbor. Two-years-old, now thirty-three, grown from papoose to white man, a writer following in your father’s footsteps.)
What happened to the lumbering sun
that rolled across the sky all summer
too self absorbed today to notice the
browning grass and tree leaves left
behind, asleep on nature’s death beds?
An orange globe, it sits behind dark clouds
and ignores the chilly breeze that
whispers though the trees choosing
dancing partners--- red and yellow---then
dropping them in piles on the earth below,
dressing tree limbs in skeleton costumes
to frighten trick-or-treaters.
Someone should tell the sun it’s much
too early to take leave of summer when
only yesterday we cast aside our winter coats
and said goodbye to snow and icicles then
planted gardens eager to share zucchini
with neighbors, who returned our largess
with plumbs and apples from their orchards.
Clouds thicken up above hiding the sun who
laughs, refusing to take blame for
Mother Nature’s speedy travel schedule.
“Put on your coats,” it cajoles, “and be on
your way.” We grumble like naughty children,
trying to remember what fun it was to skate
on ice while catching snowflakes on our tongues.
What Do Cats Know?
“Scat,” I said to the uninvited feline
who’d slunk over the tiles I’d placed
securely near the fence that separates
my yard from hers.
She jumped and raced for the opening
she’d discovered between our yards, spitting
anger at my un-neighborly plan to cheat
her of the rewards of being a predator.
My goal was honorable. Gorgeous tanagers
had arrived flashing orange bodies with bold
black crowns and white stripped wings,
diving to claim the jelly and oranges set like a
King’s feast on the oriole’s feeder. Modest females flew in with muted yellow bellies and black wings that sported similar stripes. They fought for a place at the feeder and
for two weeks gained weight before my eyes.
They flew away today, resuming their migration
without a word of thanks and no promise they’d return.
The cat came back and stared with accusing eyes as if it were my fault they’d left. What do cats know?
When did the creatures who stumbled out of the seas
decide that time should be measured by the rising and
setting of the sun?
When did that calculated space become a day?
When did that day become divided into hours that bind
us to a ruling schedule not to be ignored?
When did man decide that eight hours each day must be set aside
for tedious work that garners coins to pay for food and bedding?
Who first placed a banded wristwatch on his arm to remind the world
that minutes are flying by...run, run?
Who first marked that calendar to memorialize the day one breathes____
"Posh" on the ones who bridled us with timekeeping.