In Such a Light
If you walked naked over the meadow . . . --Donald W. Baker
The boast of sunlight, dancing on the watery diamonds
the moon left strung around the barn and up
the wagon road, flashed me a dare to take the poet
at this word, and I remembered how a boy crowed
from the highest branches of the tallest oak
in Indiana, once upon a time, then rocked the limb
in wildly supple arc and laughed at double-daring
friends left stranded in the shade below. His eyes
blazed wide as any summer day.
That challenge met,
day-dreamed again now challenged all the more. What
could I do, but drop the guise of being civilized
hand step out of the safety of dark woods? I've rambled
half the way across this ancient bowl of birds
and mice, to stand here in the center of it all
feet soothed by moss and lapped by linen grass,
legs wrapped in webs where brambles scrawled red
signatures, couch grass and foxtail tickling toward
my thighs. A cool breeze whispers of the usefulness
of loin cloth, but my chest takes to the sun
like armor and my back recalls Tecumseh's pride,
tossing his head, acknowledging his kinship
with the sky. If any neighbor boys are watching
from the woods, I hope they see my antlers
point the five directions of the eagle fathers' way.
That dreaming boy, one summer, took himself to task
to cure his fear of spiders. Red and yellow lumps
with hairy legs, and fangs. While hunting them
through fields and catching them with jar and lid,
his hands so close, he calmed himself by learning
to respect their fears, and praise the able beauty
of their fatal needs.
Then, walking home, he'd talk
to cardinals, whistling with the male's fierce
flame. One day he came upon a pair of king snakes
on a sunny bank, ecstatic in the doubling and
redoubling ring of their embrace. Then standing
motionless, the long while that the sun passed by
and they were all themselves, he honored them
for parenthood. Each day he raised his hand
to give the war chief''s signal to the meadowlarks,
repeating the sure sign they carried on their breast
that all is for the good. And though he could not
see an end, he knew it is the end that counts
and dreamed he lent himself to be a means.
He ran the golden path and leaped from day
to day, like Thoreau on the hummocks under Merlin's
aerobatic flight. If this were Walden, in this
morning light, I'd leap from hut to pond, from shore
to shore. I'd leap from dawn to dusk and back.
More likely, I'll have chiggers on my balls tonight.
That is their way. And, hell, it is their right.
They shine in golden nature too. Their bite
is Buddha's bite. All things must live, in such a light.
Tom Koontz, An Ordinary World.