Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Tree of Life

The air is cooler now in the waning days of summer
I pull the chambray shirt around me as sun changes to shade along the trail
The leaves of the trees are still green
The birds calling out in the bright morning sun
But the underbrush, once lush, is now faded
Dusty, waiting, leaves already falling
The scent of transition

The trail follows a riverbed of scattered rocks
Then back into the trees
Crossing a slough I step into the water
Cold and cloudy, no longer clear and flowing
It is waiting, too
Dew covered grass keeps my legs wet as I climb the opposite bank
A hawk takes wing, suddenly
The dog giving useless joyful chase

Now the river is close
The raucous sound of geese gets louder
The trail breaks into the open
The river sparkling, flowing, rumbling over rocks
Geese cover an exposed area of rocks in the center of the river
Incessant in their conversation, one lone great white egret sits in their midst, silent hunched

The dog swims and I wade, the sun warmer now
I soak my chambray shirt in the cold water and put it on, dripping
It is my insurance against the heat as we start back
Again playing cat and mouse with the sun and shade
Entering the last, the longest, bit of woods along the trail
We pause at a volunteer tree, a fruit tree of happenstance, revered on other continents
Non-native, out of place, it's broad deep green scalloped leaves flowing out of deeper shade
Seeking sun, the branches of the fig tree reach out heavy with fruit turning purple
I reach up and eat its sweet offering 
In the treetops over my left shoulder the last moon of summer gives her assent as I plunder
The tree of life

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Closed My Eyes

I dreamt of an America in 2021
She was beautiful and her arms overflowed with the bounty of the land
Snowcapped mountains in Alaska to beaches in the Florida Keys
Lobstermen bringing in the catch in Maine to condors soaring over the Grand Canyon
Her heart was full to overflowing with the prosperity of her people
In cities and towns and farms those people went about the business of the day
They asked about the uncle's illness, how was the fishing trip, and how is your daughter liking kindergarten
The air was fresh on a September morning and the rivers clear
People went to work and built things that others needed
The pay collected flowed back and helped the downtrodden and the ill
Bringing a smile to the lips of our beautiful goddess that guards the Golden Door, her light still beckoning
People worshipped or not but understood the right and revered its preservation lest we all be denied
Not everyone agreed, but all respected the will of the people as the ultimate form of governance
Those elected, as well, looked ever to their constituents for guidance and showed the door to those who would have them stray into doing harm to this nation
Grandparents ran up to the boarding gates of airports to swing grandchildren in the air when they came to visit, walking unhindered through the concourses
The privacy of the conversation on a cell phone between a wife and a soldier serving in a faraway land was sacrosanct as was the video of the new niece sent to the aunt
As a nation, there were still tough decisions to make but there was no venom as we were all Americans and all loved this country equally and without reserve

And no one wanted, ever, to go back to the dark days of 2011
I dreamt of an America in 2021

In dedication to Woody Guthrie, as this is still our land.