And I did, or “Teaching, August 2020”

Fifth grade, Mrs. Williams’ room
If I can get through this presentation
The rest of the year is easy
And I did

Algebra, ninth grade, fourth quarter
If I can pull off a 90 on the final
I’ll pass the class
And I did

Parris Island with a late September report date
If I can make it through without getting set back
I’ll wear that uniform home for Christmas
And I did

If I can get my little girl’s fever down
The worst is going to be past
If I can get through this last class
College is behind me

If I can —

And I did
I didn’t ever do it alone, but I did

What do we say?
Clear this hurdle
Climb this mountain
See this through

And we will
And we will

Draft, July 2020

Not Just a Moment

I was given a moment, earlier today 
And I’m happy to say I recognized it as such
An instant in time when I spotted a feather 
Lying on the ground by my garden fence 

An owl, sometime during the night, visited my yard
There was a moment when I recognized the feather 
Just as there was one when the feather was lost
Quite possibly a different moment saw the taking of prey in the dark 

We’re given moments, and sometimes they are given us
They’re not seconds, mere divisions of a day
Nor are they heartbeats, each one cherished but passing without remark
The life-giving product of a miraculous electrical impulse

We’re given many moments each day
Most of them inconsequential, but some of them not

The morning sun reflecting off sprinkler-wet stepping stones
A moment when I see my daughters looking out from a picture frame
One when I find my dog wanting to play
Another sees me finding a note from my wife, giving her love

A moment when my eyes fall on a flower in an unexpected place
A moment when the sun is just seconds away from disappearing 
behind the tree line to the west
A moment when sleep takes us, and there are no more

Bothered or Not

I’ve never met Mark Twain 
or Samuel Clemens, for that matter
I’ve read some of his stuff though
and something he said has always 
Sort of stuck with me  

“I’m bothered,” I’ve read
“By those passages of scripture I do understand” 
or something along those lines.  
The quote changes 
as such things will do over the years

He’d be, in the company of some folks
Alone with his thinking nowadays  
Blessed are the meek” 
Blessed are the merciful
Blessed are the peacemakers

Oh, we still understand

Lots of us just aren’t bothered anymore

Scripture from Matthew 5:5-9 (NIV)

In the Presence of Hope

Nature is hard

For the feathered
For the furred and for the finned
For those creatures that crawl 
For those that burrow or slither
Nature is hard

For you, for me, for those of us with the
Ability to read or understand these words
Life might not be easy
But it’s rarely as it is out there
Out there in nature

Out there, disaster usually means death
A broken wing or a strained leg
A spoiled source of water
A fallen nest or a disturbed den
Disaster like that almost always brings about the end

But sometimes–rarely, but sometimes
Disaster happens in the presence of hope

Hope in the form of human hands
That will scoop up and embrace
Human hands and a heart that strives to
Bring a wholeness to the broken and to 
Preserve that which was surely lost

Sometimes
Rarely, but sometimes

A word on wildlife rescue and rehabilitation:  While the fate of some animals might rest in the hands of humans, it is crucial that a would-be rescuer not make a difficult situation worse.  Many times, animals that are “rescued” were never in any danger.  Fledged birds, hidden fawns, and even box turtles crossing the road are oftentimes captured, putting them in an even worse situation. 

Fledged birds on the ground are almost always being watched over by an invisible parent, fawns are left by parents, concealed for the day, and turtles (who unknowingly appreciate being assisted across the road in the direction they were headed) are territorial and will often perish in a new location.  

If you find yourself in a position to help wildlife, please first contact a licensed rehab provider in your area for advice.  Thank you! 

A Trail. July, 2020

The trail leads on
Invisible after only a handful of yards
Turning lazily through the oak and hickory trees that 
Stand on this plot of north Alabama land

With the sun still below the tops of the trees
It’s an almost cool time of the morning
The July heat will come later this day
But for now we enjoy the morning shade

I look up to see fruit clusters
Pointing skyward from the branches
Of a stand of staghorn sumac
Burnt orange in anticipation of the crimson to come

Our grandchildren run ahead in search of their future
While my wife and I enjoy the company of their mother
With the world aflame beyond these trees
We live in and for the moment

And at this time, it is enough

Summer Haiku

Just a couple of poems. I’m sorry to say the first one is more of a memory.

Under the dark sky
Crickets sing the night away
Cacophonous joy

A nearly full moon
Lightens the mid-summer sky
Immutable hush

Nursery Stroll

Walking through a nursery
   A nursery of plants
Is to stroll through the potential
   Of the future
The future of a different space

Each plant can be lifted
   Lifted from the pot
   Soil falling through your fingers
And placed into a new place
   A place, a void, a hole that was prepared
   Just for that plant

Walk the rows
Browse
Dream
See tomorrow

Feathers

I found two flight feathers
in the mew this morning
Primaries, both from the left wing

The book says it doesn’t work that way
There’s a genetic sequence involved
There’s an order of things

Clearly

Someone didn’t read the book


Note: I’m a volunteer with RISE Raptor Project, a conservation organization which works with a variety of birds of prey. More information on the organization can be found here: http://riseraptor.org/

Understand

To experience a walk as one who dares
to stride in another’s stead
is to begin, but only to begin, to understand

You’ve not cried the tears
your heart has not been torn asunder
but you’ve chosen to walk in turn
where another—without choosing—must tread

Walk near with a heart ardent
Walk as one who dares

This poem was written as part of a challenge to end every line with a word containing only the letters found in a single word.  For this poem, the word is “understand.”