Braving the Wilds

Field Notes from the Suburban Jungle

Tag: empathy

Memorial Day, 2020

For Peter and Suzanne

Dusk extinguished the day,
its wicks of pink ignited clouds
burned to carbonic cords
of grey, while the birds quieted

their melody leaving only
percussion to the peepers,
the hyla crucifer,
to dismiss the band, and

call to other cross-bearing
frogs, a love song to their betrothed
from greater than six feet.
The female will lay her eggs,

after a socially intimate
rendezvous-vous, in a near-by pond
on an antique farm, while we mourn
the dead of our wars, avoidable,

those fighting a virus, perhaps
not as avoidable, and
slug the dregs of what’s left
of the rose-colored wine.

We long to embrace our guests,
two kisses on the cheek goodnight,
bid adieu; but instead, we
retreat to our homes to join,

at leisure, from across state lines,
those incessant, blessed frogs.

Setting the Table in the Age of Reason

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching…I have been bent and broken, but I hope into a better shape.”  From Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.

A dinner fork with a bent tine
Serendipitously landed
At my place setting most often,
It seemed to me.
Flanking a flea market find,
A Wedgewood drabware plate
Crackled and chipped in earnest,
Antiqued sufficiently to suggest
It could have held the roast chicken of
Thomas Paine himself.

The northward tine was at first
Jarring, startling the smooth
Maneuvering of this thrice-daily
Task, sustaining, comforting,
Unifying, at the table
Of those I have borne,
Rendered, after more than a decade of
Sycophantic childhood, as imperfect in
Their teenaged eyes.

The slide of stainless steel
Fits with precision in the
Space between my upper incisor,
My canine, a whistle, never repaired
For a series of human reasons,
Leaving a photo documentary:
A trail of Jaconde-like portraits,
Seemingly confident, omniscient
Expressions, hiding the gaps,
Revealed only to a handful of those
With whom a shared, altruistic,
Symbiosis feeds divinely flawed,
Earthly love.