Within this wooden box
Tree swallows built a home
Of grass and feathers
Formed a cup-shaped nest
To hold a clutch of pink-white eggs
Tended them in heat and chill
Watched as shells cracked and
To take their first deep drink of air
Through short summer months
They swept bugs up on the wing
Perfected their aerial acrobatics
Then as the sun shrank
They cast themselves south
And left behind an empty sky.
A snow-wrapped memory
Along the front range snow drapes the peaks and shoulders
River fog fills chilled air and
Clouds spin riffs on a winter song.
Trees keep alive the old stories, the tales of then and now and why and how.
Most of the time we’re too impatient to listen.
But if we slow down
if we move among them with an open heart
we might just hear what they have to say.
Fence posts and barbwire tamed the West, so they say. Defined the line between mine and yours. Designed to keep these in and those out (whatever they were). Left no doubt as to who owned what.
In his poem Mending Wall Robert Frost writes about the journey he makes each spring with his neighbour to repair the stone wall that separates their two properties. His neighbour claims: “Good fences make good neighbours.”
At one time rivers, mountains, oceans, cliffs, deserts — even gravity — kept tabs on who went where.
In our ongoing quest for safety, we continue to build walls and fences and where those physical barricades are not enough we build divisiveness with culture, skin colour, language, country of origin, religion, clothing, age, gender, species, ignorance, weapons, jealousy, anger, fear — anything to keep us and them apart.
As for Robert Frost?
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Autumn puts brush to palette
Blends rich colours on the board
Then lightly, deftly
Paints the forest floor.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the crowd
To do/say/think just like those around you.
Trying to belong
Is a foolish footpath.
How can you be happy
If you’re singing someone else’s song?
Learn to be yourself
— whatever that may be —
then you won’t need to look for happiness.
It will find you.
Bunchberry Cornus canadensis
Where trees are thick and tangled
Where sun finds little passage
Where even air is heavy and dark
For a brief moment
A single point of light
Palmate-leaved coltsfoot Petasites palmatus
Wavelengths and nerves and photoreceptors
Reds, blues and greens
Rods and cones
Night vision and eye shine
Science has solved the riddles of sight
But what of beauty?
On that it is silent.
Among low spots in the meadow
Where dampness lingers
Sway atop their stems
But beauty hides a bitter oil
That poisons cattle
Blisters skin and mouth
And bring a painful death.
Beauty is as beauty does.
Tall buttercup Ranunculus acris