When the moment comes
you leap lightening-swift
and disappear into the bushes.
Then you trot into the house,
tail in the air, bearing your gift for all to admire:
a wounded hummingbird.

We bury the bird out back, under the lemon tree.
You follow with your tail wagging, watching intently.
As we’re digging the hole,
you turn and leap into the herb garden to chase a dragonfly.

We get a bell and hesitantly buckle it to your neck,
hoping to save humming birds without shackling your spirit.

Next morning at dawn
as I sit meditating on the deck overlooking the ocean,
I hear a tinkling bell, feel a soft thud on my lap,
hear purring in my ears, and feel drool on my hands.
Now I know:
your spirit is not to be shackled.

The bell becomes part of you.
All of us, Wendy and I and the other cats,
look up whenever we hear the tinkles
that announce your entry.

Then you arrive, tail wagging and eyes bright,
scanning us, the other cats’ food bowls,
and everything that flies, crawls or moves.
No matter where you look or leap,
you expect, and receive, only good.

When you perch on the deck railing
watching the flying birds with such intensity,
you seem like,
were it not for the laws of physics
tied like a bell around your neck,
you would take off and fly with them.

So little and so young,
you’ve became our teacher.

Then you get sick.
You breathe fast, look panicked, hide under the bed.
Wendy takes off your bell.

“We tried to drain her lungs but it’s not working,”
the vet tells us by phone three days later.
Tomorrow’s decision:
try to keep her alive with expensive, painful, uncertain surgery,
or let her go now?

Wendy and I sit in silence on the couch,
the one where you love to sit between us.
We pray, cry, hold each other.

The next morning, at dawn, I’m back on the deck, seeking guidance.
Who knows the moment of death? Who can decide?
Now I can see you on the railing,
tail wagging as you look out at the vast expanse before you,
no longer encumbered by the bell around your neck,
eyes intently ahead, quivering with excitement,
ready to leap when the moment comes.

Meditation Meditation 1

Ghostly objects float toward me in the morning fog out on the deck
as the mind struggles to cope.

Half-written notes, half-read books,
empty promises that make no sound as they drift past,
tables set for a feast, surrounded by chairs with no one in them.
Bodies of those I’ve recruited to join me in visionary projects for a better world
drift silently past, eyes staring vacantly ahead
as I try helplessly to reach out to grab their attention.

They cart me off to Merriment Manor Senior Living Home
shaking their heads sadly.
“He just doesn’t have it anymore,” they say,
as the nurse’s aide from another country,
who just got this job at minimum wage
and has signed up for her required ESL class,
hands me my walker and wheelchair.
“But what will become of the dreams and promises?” I say.
“What about the people who’ve trusted me to make a difference?”

The nurse’s aide shakes her head and smiles uncertainly.
The rest just look at each other knowingly.
“He doesn’t have it anymore,” they say.

Then out of nowhere you jump into my lap, purring,
demanding to be noticed, stroked, and scratched in your favorite places.

I sit still for a moment, staring at the fog. You nuzzle your nose against my damp hand, pressing and rubbing your furry forehead insistently.

“Come on,” I say, getting up. Merriment Manor vanishes into the fog. “Let’s go inside and get some breakfast.”

Teen-Age Elephant Seals

Driven here by something we can’t see
and don’t understand,
we wait for the grown-ups,
to see their battles.

Some will die.
The rest will cluster in harems and mate.

Some will give birth before heading back to sea,
to pups who will stay behind and learn,
half of them, to survive.

We will watch.
Next year it’s our turn.

Wildlife Associate

Fox-2cThe world has become a dangerous neighborhood for foxes.
Though it injured you, now you have shelter.
Your new job: teaching our young ones
to learn living with your young ones, their lost siblings.
Together, and only together, our family can find a heart of wisdom.
Then it will be a safer neighborhood for all of us.

Photo taken on a visit to Wildlife Associates, escorted by Executive Director Steven Karlin. (