Were still blooming,
Though many had already gone to seed-
Jewel of weeds, orange, beloved
Of the hummingbirds
For their deeply held sweets,
And the ripe pod, when touched
To open and high-fly
Its seeds into the world.
I was walking
Down a path
Where they grew, succulent and thick
In the damp earth near
A stream, when I saw a trap
With a little raccoon inside,
As it felt, over and over,
The mesh of its capture,
And I had t time-
To stumble down to the stream, and open the trap
And say to the little one:
And the little one flew-
I did not touch him-
And climbed high into a tree.
And then I too, knowing the world,
Ran through the jewel weeds
As someone, unknown and not smiling
Came down the path to where
The trap lay, stamped upon
By my very own feet,
And while I ran, the touch-me-nots
Their golden bodies-
I could not help but touch them-
And dashed forth their sleek pods,
Oh, life flew around us, everywhere.
Mary touches not the flowers or raccoon at first, but then stomps on the trap and then touches the flowers. Her heart is touched by the injustice she sees around her, and then she acts and touches the world with reckless abandon, freeing herself and life around her. It seems we don’t really control what we touch or when we are touched. But if we aren’t open to the inherent worth and dignity of all life that says “touch me not” then we might end up imprisoning the beauty without and within.
I have trapped animals before – feral cats that hunt birds on our backyard sanctuary. My heart ached to think of them in their wire cages, their future likely euthanasia at the local animal service shelter. So I don’t trap as many as I did, and hence, there are fewer birds flying around us because of this. My heart is also pained to see wild birds caged in homes as companion animals, such as the parrot species I have spent some much time in awe of as they fly over the fields and forests of Central America. So I don ‘t work with captive birds anymore, and I tell you, I dream of touching their feathers, holding them close, smelling their sweet innocence as I bury my face in their wonder. I so long to touch them, but because I don’t, I pray that there are more birds flying around. Perhaps I’m a bit freer as well.
They who bind to themselves a joy
Do the winged life destroy
They who kiss the joy as it flies
Live in eternity’s sunrise (adapted from William Blake)
What or whom do you long to touch, or be touched by?