Friday, April 13, 2012

This One’s for Dave

and so I walk …
with my head in the clouds, it’s April
out here in Southwest Washington
big puffy white clouds, cumulous and stratus
the stratocumulus and whatnot
Grand Canyons of cotton over my head
Manhattan skylines of fluffy white floating
into the sky, Titanic ships of stuffing
sinking in the horizon under pure blue sky
behind red-tailed hawks circling, surfing
tidal waves of thick clouds and breaking
on the shores, the gray wet clouds ready
to burst vertical watercolor strokes –

there are 4 layers of sky here:
the low puffy white
the grey heavy wet
the thin white high clouds
and the blue sky above even all that

this morning, driving to work I saw
five layers … all that, plus the low
damp fog, driving through
my windshield wipers, sky
down low, tires splashing  puddle
sky in a pothole, wet
Southwest Washington in April

there is so much going on above
my head I barely notice until
its almost too late – a garter snake!
coiled and pissed, upset that I nearly
stepped on him, he hisses …
pointed tongue flicks in defiance
the vertical yellow line like a
twisted road in the mountains, back
and forth, the little guy is poised
ready to fight, upset at my
neglect of attention

it’s April in Southwest Washington and I am reminded
of the snake we caught in my neighbor’s garage last year
terrorizing their 7-year old daughter, another garter
my son and I captured, placed in the plastic terrarium
and returned to the shores of Whipple Creek
I with my bad knee, shaky on my feet
and Riley balancing down by the rocks, saying goodbye
to our slithering friend as we released the serpent
from the container into the wild, holding back tears

or the time Shelly followed me back to my cubicle
stuck to my windshield – a praying mantis, bright
green and beautiful. I kept her stored in my empty
pop container after removing the ice and plastic
straw, another gift from Spring in Southwest Washington
where she watched me work at my desk for the rest
of the day – both of us trapped. And when I drove home
I stopped by the pet store and bought that $14
terrarium to house the mantis. And it was the kids
who named her Shelly while we searched for leaves
and twigs to furnish her new apartment as I explained
her beautiful bright color, her exoskeleton and the fact
that her hands looked like she was praying to a god …

and a month later, when we finally did let her go
both Kiera and Riley were sobbing, saying their goodbyes
to their friend, their pet, their praying mantis –
Shelly, who flew up into the sky, dancing
among the clouds out here in Southwest Washington
the big puffy white clouds, cumulous and stratus
the stratocumulus and whatnot