Life Off the Cliff

Lessons that we all have learned from Pete:

Be blunt: rip the Band-Aid off the truth.

Share: it makes your ownership complete.

And laugh: some days refined, some days uncouth.

Bad news? Scream ugly once, then turn the page,

You are the writer at this theater, not the show.

No bragging rights unless you scar with age;

Drive off the cliff, if what you want’s below.

During the blink of light, the gasp of breath, that’s life,

Some brothers lock their doors, seat belts secured.

Back from the edge, to stay unhurt, to just survive,

They never climb the railing, jump the curb.

But some things aren’t revealed at a distance.

Fledgling egrets or nursing otter pups,

Cliffside terns or parading pelicans,

Fluttering monarchs or rhythmic waves of kelp.

Each day’s unique and sunrise is the proof.

One buffets the beach, like storms attack a boat.

Another fades to gray, with sun aloof.

Then, clouds and sea in stained glass seem to float.

Pete, the image of you that is going to last:

You let each and every morning have its day.

You take the good from all you see go past.

You love, and are loved, more than words can say.

aired on:  KZSC radio 6-8-2010

Bull Headed

If I squinted, the farm looked pretty much the same as it had when I left, 9 years ago, blinking back tears. The pond had shrunk; the bluegrass had grown longer and gone to seed.  The fence lay halfway down.

Frost bleached the roof, yet no smoke rose from the chimney of our farmhouse on the knoll.  The front field that the goats used to clear was now overgrown with larkspur, ragwort and blackberry.  No sign of livestock, chicken or ducks.  The horse barn was leaning at an odd angle, as though reeling from a strong wind.  Between the cow barn and the house, the dust seemed as untracked as the snow-powdered mountainsides of the Rockies I had just seen day before yesterday from the train.

I walked over to the corner of the cow barn.  The tall splints Pa and I had fashioned were still in place, still straight.

I remembered the young black bull, Napoleon, no higher than Pa’s shoulder, in a sudden burst charging at the big Hereford bull that was temporarily sharing his pen.  When the other bull leapt out of the way, Napoleon’s amazing forehead had cracked the eight-inch square post that formed the corner of the barn up to the hayloft; hence the splint.

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Butterfly Love

Via collection

Binnacle UltraShort H.M.

The butterfly lit on the end of my ring finger near the passion vine.  I pulled the little lasso tight.  She fluttered up to the length of her new silk leash like the loveliest of rising kites.

I sensed no panic, no fear of captivity; her buoyancy teased against the weightless tether, somehow knowing I would wine her on nectar and dine her on pollen and bed her tonight in a blanket of thistle down.  I’d thought it through.

We roamed the garden planted for her, reviewing the long sprays, sampling the bright clusters.  She was content to ride with folded wings, princess-like, in black and orange velvet.

Toward dusk we settled on the lawn for the night.  Neither of us could eat.  We went in when dampness reached my bones.

Now I will support her as long as necessary, hand on my heart.  I will let her stitch my fingers together with her sticky thread and wait with her, while she slips into something else.

If only I could see the swelling of her tiny heart and hear it beat.