Friday, February 13, 2009

WHAT HAPPENED HERE?

What happened here? That’s what I always wonder when I find such traces. A drop of blood in the snow. Hair tufts caught on a twig. A handful of smoky-gray feathers, damp and matted, atop last fall’s coppery sycamore leaves. What fierce scenario played out while my gaze was elsewhere? Did the end come quick, sharp-talons swooping from ashen February sky? Give me the details. Let me understand this tragedy’s events and shape. Please. I see the death notice, but I want the story. Now, before the wind rises and erases these small reminders. And I, caring but distracted, forget to honor a passing with mourning.

12 comments:

Jenn Jilks said...

I like this! They cycle of life must include death.

Carolyn H said...

From the colors in the photo, I'd guess titmouse was the victim, and I'm tempted to say raptor was the cause.

Carolyn H.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

Indeed and alas, it must…and does.

Yesterday afternoon I received word that my best friend, who's in the final stages of Parkinson's Disease, had been taken from his nursing home in western Ohio to the nearest hospital, which is in eastern Indiana. I immediately dropped what I was doing and drove there to be with him. He was in their critical care unit, with breathing, swallowing, and choking problems, and of course, the possibility of pneumonia. The hospital had run their tests, and there was nothing more they could do for him. So he's being returned to the nursing home today and Hospice will be called in to help make his final days (or hours) comfortable.

I can't begin to tell you the adventures this friend and I have shared over the decades. He's quite a bit older than me, but until the Parkinson's, was a hale and hearty man, of booming voice and easy laughter —a fellow writer, outdoorsman, book lover, Christian. Perhaps the finest man I've ever met.

He's lived a long and good and productive life. He not afraid of death, and would, in fact, welcome it. But death will take him in season…and in the meantime, I hate so much to watch him suffer, and I am so, so sad.

Still, as an old and wise naturalist, my beloved old friend and I both know that death is part of the life cycle—as surely as birth.

I'm glad you liked the poem.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Carolyn…

Yes, titmouse may be right, though I lean more toward nuthatch.

It was starting to rain as I hurriedly snapped this photo, and I ran inside to protect the camera and didn't flip the feather patch over and take a close look. A minute or two later it began blowing like crazy—and when I hustled back out, the feathers were gone. The tips of a few, which you can just make out in the one shot I managed, are rather blue-gray, which is what makes me vote for nuthatch. But I could easily be wrong.

And I'd bet the farm on raptor—specifically the Cooper's hawk that cruises into the yard a couple of times daily. I've seen his work before.

giggles said...

This pile o' feathers looks so neat...so deliberately stacked! (Oh please, no...not a nuthatch!!)

Sorry to hear of your friend's suffering.... Begs the question of me about the need for such suffering at the end of days....

Peace be with you...and your friend.... tears....

Bella said...

The little mysteries of life... I enjoyed this poem and the photo.

Beautiful written tribute to your best friend...yes, the cycle of life continues..

Following on from the Wind in the Willows comments in the previous post - I confess also to being an adult lover of it. I did read it when I was younger and remember distinctly thinking it was special and took me to a magical place, but I couldn't quite grasp it until I was an adult. Once I finished reading it I was compelled to start again. Its symbolism of home/nesting/refuge makes it a soulful book for me.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

It does look rather neatly stacked—ripped of in the whole, I'd wager. Not a nice thought, however. If it was a nuthatch, it would be the second one this winter that I know of. I have lots of nuthatches, and lots of titmice, so I would have any way of knowing if one were missing. I do love the friendly little yankety-yank nuthatches, though.

Thank you for your words regarding my friend. They're appreciated…

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bella…

I never know what to think of my poems…but I'm glad you liked this one.

I've been distracted by my friend's situation all day, hurt, empty, and yet so very grateful for all the years and adventures we shared together. I'll write more of him if/when the time comes.

You know, I would never have guessed hardly anyone except me came to Wind in the Willows as an adult. It is amazing, I think, that in so small a group, several of us found it this way. And I loved the way you put it about the symbolism of "home/nesting/refuge" making it "soulful book." That's exactly the book has endured. When a writer somehow, though art and skill and perhaps alchemy, can work magic, he can reach inside and find your heart. The process can't be taught, or learned, or forced—it is a gift given, and only rarely, and it comes from the very best depths of humanity; perhaps even as a dispensation from God. No writer can take credit for such a book…and no such book could have been written by any other writer.

Val said...

Peace be with you, dear Grizzled.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Val…

Thank you.

KGMom said...

To everthing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.
Such wise words--for me there is some comfort in the inevitability of the cycle of life.
Death comes to all--to small birds, to dear friends.
May your friend's passing be peaceful, and may your remembrances sustain you.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

You are right…and I know this. But thank you for your kind words. I sincerely appreciate them.