Reeds tall, brown and green,
dormant forest volcanos,
lake dammed by lava.
Flowers purple and yellow,
basalt boulders lichen blotched.
No one knows I’m here.
My fragile tranquility
has time to strengthen.
An osprey rising higher,
clutching a fish in its claws.
Right across the lake,
the most perfect volcano,
Trees more distant on the shore,
this one must be Maiden Peak.
In front, Ranger Butte,
toward the south with clearcut mange,
that’s Maklaks Mountain.
Setting aside my troubles,
I identify them all.
Why are volcanos beautiful?
Is there a physical answer?
I think a spiritual answer
would be easier to find.
How about this one: Why am I a father?
In the physical plane, the answer’s obvious.
But if I want spiritual reasons—
Why with a woman with whom I can’t
reach a peaceful agreement about anything?
Today there’s little wind,
blue sky toward the southwest,
but I don’t mind cooler and cloudy.
It’s peaceful here.
The occasional outbursts of families
camped at neighboring sites,
even their firecrackers, are nothing,
compared to the birds,
the reeds, the quiet water.
Nancy’s water broke
Sunday morning at two thirty a.m.
She’s in the hospital having contractions
every twenty minutes or so.
I visited her today, first time
I’ve seen her in person since last June.
She’s had an ultrasound
and knows she’s having a boy.
She didn’t seem angry with me.
I didn’t feel angry with her.
I think we can share this child.
on my lap asleep
soft squeaks high pitched grunts
about the size of a cat
his shape like mine more or less
closed eyes and small features
touch me so deeply
I honestly don’t know what to think.
I spent so much time hating Nancy,
fighting inner battles with her,
and here’s this loving mother
taking perfect care of my baby.
At first I cringed to hear her voice again,
now it makes me feel glad.
Had she been like this six months ago,
we never would have split up.
When I kissed Rusty’s forehead, then Nancy’s,
she tilted her head up momentarily.
I don’t know if she was offering me her lips.
She is back with her ex-boyfriend, Bill.
I’m bottled up, eager, ambivalent.
copyright © 2005 Carl Miller
Rusty was born November 30, 1988. The painting shows Bayhorse Lake.