Another Kind of Love Poem

Jonah and his papa, Biarritz long ago, collage drawing by William Eaton, March 2017Putting together a sort of book of my poetry to submit to the US Copyright Office, I came across this old poem, which I wrote when my son was 8—rather than 17 and soon to go off to college! The poem was right when I wrote it, and it continues to feel right.

 

Last summer I took my son on a “service trip” —

To help with some trail work along a stream in a forest in Utah.

One day we got up late and over breakfast Jonah wanted to finish a rather long book;

It was midday by the time we headed up from the camp to join the others.

I was delighted by the butterflies flitting in the sunlight along the trail.

As is my wont I proposed to Jonah that we count how many species we saw.

He had little interest in this. I counted six species, I believe.

 

I recalled this today, a year later, when I took Jonah on a hike above a Belgian tourist town.

We were crossing between fields, past a few cows, haying, blackberry bushes, communication towers.

We had been visiting battle sites and Jonah was pretending he was fighting enemies along the trail —

Throwing pine-cone grenades, machine-gunning, bazooking, being joined by the Prussian cavalry.

I had to do some shooting too and had to hand him time-bombs and landmines from out of my backpack.

I began to notice all the butterflies — in one row of low bushes there was a swarm such as I had never seen before.

I said to Jonah that this was one of my favorite things — for all I do not do it very often:

Walk on a path in the country in the summer and see the butterflies and wildflowers.

 

As we were heading back to the car to go take him to an archery range

We heard a lone bird singing hidden in a tree.

First I and then Jonah spent some time trying to imitate the bird’s call.

We saw a black caterpillar trying to make its way across the path.

With a stick Jonah toyed with it and spoke warmly of its fuzziness.

 

We saw two horses standing motionless between their turds and an empty water trough.

One of them — it was as if he had a disease or had been crying sweet tears —

Flies swarmed one of side of his face, his eyelids, his eye.

To me the torture was all the worse because the horse seemed to have accepted that there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.

Jonah said he didn’t think the horse minded the flies.

 

As we were starting down the steepest slope I told him about how it is usually harder to hike down than up,

Particularly if you are middle-aged and hobbled by a broken ankle like me.

Jonah said that for him (8 years old) going down was easy.

(Later he admitted his thighs hurt.)

 

At the range he didn’t want his Papa to give him any instruction — not that I’m an expert archer.

When the repeated snap of the bowstring began to hurt his fingers

I wrapped them with electrical tape so he could keep on shooting.

 

Text and drawing-collage by William Eaton

Now available from Amazon: Art, Sex, Politics

Art, Sex, Politics cover from AmazonIn a new, provocative collection of essays, William Eaton, the author of Surviving the Twenty-First Century, shares the pleasures of questions, tastes, reading and more visual arts. “That we are animals, that is as sure as ever. How savagely we behave! And how affectionately rub up against one another. How, desperately, make love?”

Five-star review: “ . . . remarkable collection of essays. . . . insights which carry the reader into a world of mindfulness. One of the pleasures of reading a book by Mr. Eaton is to witness the author peeling away the layers of his stories. His essay concerning “savoring,” for example, first touches on food habits, yet is in fact a call to live with intention; to savor life as one would savor a meal. . . . lovely prose . . . delightful book.”

Kind words about Surviving: “Entertaining, yet packs a quiet intellectual wallop. . . . so thought-provoking and poetic I didn’t want it to end . . . beautiful and wise and moving . . . engaged, non-doctrinaire, well-read, independent-minded. . . . William Eaton finds arresting themes in unusual places. . . . The writing is masterful and wonderfully absorbing.”



Categories: Just Being, Parents and Children, Poems (including Limericks)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.