Second Stump

Had to be forty years ago now…

true story
not that I’m bragging
old stone farmhouse
middle of nowhere
for New Jersey
snow coming down
I push open the back door hinge
it’s oddly inviting
it’s that giant-clumped slow motion kind of snowfall
where the sound waves dampen
like they can’t make it
through the endless walls of flakes
you only hear the hiss
comforting soft hiss
as thousands of them
with the white evolving ground

the scene requests my presence
I step out slow some thirty feet
an old tree stump seems kindly
beckons I join it… why not
sitting in the white noise
still as my companion
doesn’t a whirring staccato flutter come near
unseen behind me only heard
the riddle resolves when a wee bird alights
again not seen, but only felt
on the warmed furry luxury
of dark locks atop my head

it is a chickadee braving winter
if not a leprechaun’s imagination
as sure as I’m a second stump
and clearly preferrable to the other
given the heat radiant off my scalp
and didn’t the three of us
repose motionless
some uncountable duration
in that perfect snowy still life
impenetrable mysteries each the one to each the others
contented brief comrades in godly peace

Steve is upstairs somewhere
housemate, friend
puttering around
reading something arcane probably
how can I summon him
somebody’s got to see this
But I can do nothing
just wait in helpless enjoyment
knowing only the old stump would believe me

never told anybody
except my heartsweet son, once
he was seven
immediately ran outside
sat on the hillside
still as a stump
grabbed some seeds from the feeder
imitating a lawn gnome there
cutely as hell
waiting for a bird visit
to come in for a landing

never told anybody
cause you sort of had to be there
well, I guess now you know…
you thinking ho-hum or nifty?

I tend to get on best
with the latter sort
swear to God
it is immeasurably worthwhile
to just sit perfectly still and quiet
melding into nature
this becomes crystal clear to one
as time braids on resolutely
as the years and dates cease being numbers


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  1. What a fortuitous event for the bird! He/she found your warmth on a cold day and it must’ve been awed at how warm you were — on a day when it was desperately in need. — I think all of us wish that someone is at the right place when we are most in need.


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