So many places near at hand where lovers slipped
into the afternoon shade, dark upon the green,
lichened rocks burning beside small oak trees

beckoning, begging a pause for conversation.
The grandfather oak, arms wider than he was tall,
a Red Tail’s roost, swooped to clutch a wounded

squirrel when I was a boy, both talked to me—
we made a deal. Leaking from the gossip rocks
worn smooth by women’s feet, a chattering

melody claims the air, of centuries layered
and bared, freckled granite gray to the sky.
Always horseback in these steep hills,

the old cowboys before me were drunk
with what spoke to them, would rather ride
the unpredictable wild and tell the tale

than slap backs among the civilized. This
was their place in time—all the sharp eyes
I remember and recognize by the cut

of their descriptions, all the stories saved
by their fathers’ fathers, secreted away
and still waiting to be told, near at hand.


7 responses to “NEAR AT HAND

  1. What a wonderful thing to find early in the morning before the sun is up. Thanks, John

    Liked by 1 person

  2. very moving…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful words John. As always..
    Lisa Quinlan

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love it! I hope all those stories get told and are not lost

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just absolutely moving John!

    Near at hand indeed!

    Though the earth and its peoples heave and convulse, those of us who are inextricably tied—as if still umbilically-connected—to the land yearn to find comfort in stories of those precious ones who built our world, solace in images of enduring and unique spirits, and narratives of their vicissitudes and exploits, lessons of courage and love.

    As both professor and pastor, I behold with amazement our gale-swelled times, everything in quantum rearrangement except for that one Story, that one Testimony that has never changed, that will endure forever, past all account and memory of land, generations past and lives lived in love. That Word speaks most loudly now, to whoever will listen…a clarion call ringing through the canyons, switchbacks, ridges and washes of barely-managed, day-to-day flux and challenge.

    Though the planet shudders and rivers both above and below flood, that Word says: “I’ve been telling you this was coming…mount up and ride—with Me, on Redemption’s Trail!” Though mountains be laid low and humanity’s flimsy social constructions careen ever-closer to crashing through historical guardrails, will you come and ride with the Faithful and True, Whose eyes flame with fire, Who rides on a white horse?

    Liked by 1 person

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