Pat-down to Sitka

The trip had begun so smoothly, his housemate,
always conscious of time’s place in the scheme of things,
had delivered him to the bus station on schedule.

While the bus ride to the SeaTac airport was slow,
it was steady, and reassuring.
There would be time to spare.

Even the herding of passengers through
the endless security lines proceeded apace
until a TSA officer stopped him cold.

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Waking Up in Sitka

Staying at Mary’s house once more, this time
in an apartment below,
the view south reaches to the distant sea.
To the west, Mount Edgecumbe stands proud,
its flat top, snow-streaked,
reminding him of the eruptive power beneath.
To the east, the calm water under the bridge to
Japonski Island and the airport,
broken occasionally by a skiff’s hustling
here and there.
The ravens are busy making noise

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Hilltop View

Can I capture the joy I feel right now, looking south
from my hilltop view?
Overcast this morning but the clouds breaking up
as I write, giving me a glimpse of blue,
the slight breeze, carrying with it
the beauty of knowing another weather pattern
all light and depth,
which welcomed me home this morning
to the church’s other community,
to the world of Mary Magdalene,

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Stairs. Stairs. You gotta take the stairs. You see that, don’t you?
You gotta take the stairs. Why?
Because there’s no elevator to success! You can’t get to the
second floor of the Hames Center in Sitka, Alaska
without reading the reminder
You gotta take the stairs.
A good slogan for an exercise center, you’d have to think,
the more exercise the better,
the set of 20 steps a warmup for the second floor,
a large room of gleaming exercise machines
all designed to keep us healthy.

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On the third of three sunny days, here I was, experiencing
the dream of every father, on my son’s own boat,
him at the wheel,
piloting his own destiny, in full charge,
few aboard to help him out when life stared him down
and looked shorter then he wanted it.

After 40 years of living off the sea, he shows little
inclination to change,
happiest where he is, chugging along now at six knots
on his gill-netter, the 37 foot Sunfish,
his boat of choice for the last ten years.

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The morning sun has returned, scattering the clouds, Mt. Edgecumbe
once more revealed in all its magnificence, a backdrop to nature’s
latent power,
witnessed at its base, the deep waters of Sitka Sound, the thick forests
peaking above it,
claiming their own place, bestowing beauty and opportunity
on those who choose to cling to its shores.

The majesty, magic and mystery clings as well, instilling the desire

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On Deck

Outside my front window overlooking Sitka’s harbor,
and beyond,
you have to imagine Mount Edgecumbe and all else
to behold,
for the horizon, socked in, is blanketed now
by a wet world of gray.

On deck the small, round table and two matching chairs,
wrought-iron black,
are content to drip every few seconds, a code of wet dashes
and dots, telling me a soft rain
though not visible, is falling ever so gently
to baptize the day,

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On the Edge

Sitka! Sitka!
on the edge of things,
steep mountains at our back,
the deep Sound before,
Mount Edgecumbe there, to the west,
reminding us of nature’s latent power
and our own.
Kin to nature, too, we make our way,
feel our way,
edging to wholeness,
heaven’s rich land,
where love dwells
and where even our shadowed selves

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What More?

What more does he need? He sits at a small, round bar table
a wooden top with wrought iron legs, one of the two matching
stools under him
as, perched high, he looks out the window, a 4×6 view
to the south and Sitka Sound.

The light from the window captures the kitchen’s ample cabinets
and counter across the room,
filling in the corner, a stainless steel sink, a small electric stove
and matching refrigerator, brand new, ample to feed
any crowd,
but right now the stove heating his morning tea.

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Is context everything? Where my son and I were yesterday the
context was pretty big,
the tall spruce and hemlock surrounding us, some ancient,
a reminder of just where we were, in a recreation area on the edge
of the Tongass National Forest,
The largest temperate rainforest in the world!

We weren’t thinking about that as we walked, content, as we were,
to enjoy the sun’s welcome fling into the gray afternoon.
Looping our way over the estuary,

we were impressed with the sturdy boardwalk, wide, flat and even,

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Just So You Know

Just so you know, you bring out the poet in me.
I’m not your father, you’re not my daughter,

already I’m more than that, don’t ask me how
or why, but there it is, this peculiar sense of things.

I’m at least an admirer, enjoying your presence,
as you sit there on the sofa, your pleasant face

and bright eyes turned up to the morning light,
the faded jeans, the loose shirt, and running

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The Other Mary

Freed from her chronic ailments, demonic in nature,
once and for all, by Jesus’ healing hands,
now, in gratitude, pursues an old role in a new guise,

a renewed woman, clear-eyed and devoted,
providing support and listening hard,

following and nurturing by turn,
her chosen Lord and chosen man.

Was it true, as we hear, that they were close, spiritually intimate,

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The Poet’s Place

Where does the poet and his poetry fit in the scheme of things?
A question not often asked except by poets
who sometimes wonder at their passion’s gifts
but once in a while an answer comes, at unexpected times
in surprising ways,
inspiring them, like his muse, to write even about
the surprise itself,
so startling its quiet power.

It was nothing more than a small dinner party, close friends
mostly, using any excuse to gather, this time
to bid farewell to one

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