Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Night and the River

I have seen the great feet

leaping into the river

and I have seen moonlight

milky along the long muzzle

and I have seen the body

of something scaled and wonderful

slumped in the sudden fire of it mouth,

and I could not tell which fit me

more comfortably, the power,

or the powerlessness:

neither would have me

entirely; I was divided,

consumed, by sympathy,

pity, admiration.

After a while it was done,

the fish had vanished, the bear

lumped away

to the green shore

and into the trees. And then there was only

this story.

It followed me home

and entered my house-

a difficult guest

with a single tune

which it hums all day and through the night-

slowly, or briskly,

it doesn't matter,

it sounds like a river leaping and falling; it sounds like a body

falling apart

Being a prey item myself, you would think that I would root for the fish in this story, or the small dove loosing feathers in a explosion as the falcon hits. I am also a predator and have, and I admit it only a few times, been hungry in my life. Mostly I know how hard it is to be a predator, being a wildlife veterinarian who has treated the young raptors who have not learned the difficult task of hunting or fishing. So I root for the predator.

In short, I am torn. Seeing an Eagle scoop down over the river I whisper "careful" to the Pintail ducks on the water. Then my breath stills and when the Eagle's talons are full of meaty feathers, I should, "Wow! Well done!" Then I think of the eggs to grow cold on the nest and what will not come to be for the sake of dinner. I ache.

What a mess this life is. I awake this morning so pleased that I have the resources to contribute to life through writing, speaking, and consulting. As a predator I have hunted well in my life, accruing resources so that I may rest in my nest lined with feathers. But they are feathers of others. Just yesterday I awoke, weepy, thinking of the masses whose children will die of dysentery before the day is over, one who might have an older brother here in the U.S., perhaps even the one who cooked a burrito for me over the weekend. I am for the prey, and I am for the predator. I am for power, I am for sharing power so that it does not accumulate in the upper echelons of the food chain.

Being on the team of life, also means cheering for death.

I wonder if the only sane response is the crazy one - to go through this day with a broken heart, open to what is and letting in everything, so that my heart grows bigger and stronger.

Who do you root for, prey, predator, both, neither?

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