Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I ache to hold them

at the table

the last light is slipping away,
so are the colors,
so is my time here in the Smokies,

I found my first bear of the trip
less than an hour ago,

I’d hiked from valley to mountain top,
up and down the watersheds around me,
and no bear, or even turkey, showed itself,
minutes ago a gaggle of us watched
as the bear fed, moving crinkly leaves and a grey stone
to get at what was underneath,
acorns seem likely to me,
mine was the second car to stop,
the child in many more also slowed, stopped,
poured out of the vehicles
to almost prance at the edge of her arena,

cameras before them,
looking as if each was offered to the bear,

I snapped my pictures, too,

now as beige and russet leaves swirl in the pool before me
my mind is drawn to the practical,
what needs doing back at school,
what needs doing here at the cabin,
and who should do it, who can do it, who will do it,

I’ve already put some things in the car,
for I want to leave early in the morning,
see sunrise from an overlook half an hour away,

then seek out the elk in Cataloochee on the way home,
another cousin we’ve belatedly reintroduced to what was their home
before we took it for ours,

a guy watching the bear imagined her considering us
with the cold eye she did give us
and thinking we should “get a life,”

I think we “get a life”
when we make room at Earth’s table
for the least of these, our own brethren,
and those we often treat as even lesser,
the plants and animals with whom we are kin,

the wolves couldn’t find a new home here,
the peregrine falcon and the elk are on the way back,
the bear endures, as do we,

I hope for us to learn more truly
how to gentle our touch upon the world
so that the tomorrows that will come
have a table set for all of God’s creatures, including us,

in the morning I find a sunrise that dazzles me,
elk and turkey who thrill me,

and my camera and pen ache to appreciate and hold them.

by Henry Walker
November 1, ’10

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