At times I feel like a poet with no words,
A builder without nails or boards,
A composer without notes or measures,
Yet being compelled to write.
At other times I am like a painter staring at a blank canvas
And holding a palette of brilliant colors
But having no subject in mind.
I begin to wonder whether paints and notes even matter,
Whether putting words together in ways which reveal the truth,
Can break through the arrogant certainty of a people clamoring
For security and power at the cost of the most vulnerable:
Refugee, undocumented child, poor, sick, disabled, foreigner…
It is a terrible thing:
Terrible to watch the public once again turn, as to a messiah,
To the pursuit of profit above all else: “economic growth,” at
The cost of the land, the streams, the fish and the birds,
The creatures and the trees.
Terrible to know the crushing weight of debts unpaid,
The sense that at any moment those masters of finance
May take from us what little we have to add to their wealth.
Terrible to realize the world’s incapacity to imagine
An alternative to bombs and bullets—though an alternative
Has already been given to them.
To be obliged to speak but to lack the conviction that it matters
Is a special kind of misery.
But then I watch the Hairy Woodpecker chipping away at the suet.
I listen to the House Finch and the Nuthatch calling to their mates.
I see the pair of Mourning Doves perched together on the branch and
Am moved by their low warbling coos, their unwillingness to leave one another’s side.
I catch a glimpse of the Red Fox nimbly darting through the brush: a red ghost.
I hold the bleating newborn kid, her tiny hooves already able to leap.
I see the Dogwood budding its snow-white blooms while the squirrels
Scurry and jump in her branches.
They are not dismayed; they live and die by trust:
That the earth will produce its fruits…
That the air will support their wings…
That the ground beneath them will be firm…
That the Keeper will be faithful…
They live and die by trust, finding their joy in being what they are,
In living in the moment, loving what is before them, and
Accepting the harshness of this world, as Paul said,
“groaning in birth pangs” while waiting for the restoration of all things.