Late January found me on the red-eye to Rio. The trip was not a long-planned adventure…more an impulse to try something new in the warmth of the South American summer. I was heading to a birding tour in the quickly-vanishing Atlantic Coastal Forest. Although this unique ecosystem has been reduced to 10% of its original size through deforestation and urbanization, it is still home to an amazing variety of animal and plant species, many of which have not yet been studied. The trip seemed like a good idea at the time, and in retrospect it still seems like it was a good idea. By day two, however, as I climbed from 3500-feet to 6500-feet altitude while toting two cameras, binoculars, rain gear, food and enough water to combat dehydration in the 90-degree heat, I was having second thoughts. Was this really an age-appropriate activity? Wouldn’t a nice boat trip down the Amazon have produced as many birds with much less effort? But then, easy was never the point, and age-appropriate was never a consideration. Only by pushing our limits can we grow. Reflecting on that philosophy and where it has lead me caused me to write The Price of Doing Businessnot too many years ago, which I offer to you now as the February Poem of the Month.
January 2017 -- Reflection at a Winter Window
December 2016 -- The Creation
November 2016 -- Hemolymph Moon
October 2016 -- Vortex
September 2016 -- Do You?
The Cost of Doing Business
The rib, when it cracked, yielded with a disinterested puff,
More the deadened rap of a funeral drum
Than the spit of a rim shot accorded to a major bone.
The collar bone, broken years before,
Had gone silently, or with voice overpowered
By the splintering of the helmet.
The leg, as fine and noble a bone as there is,
Went with great fanfare in a clash of bodies
Uncontrolled in the racquetball court at midnight.
The toe, ironically, out-screamed them all,
With a crack that shouted dislocation
And a pain that would not be denied.
But leading the way, a trophy from my first flight,
Flapping my wings at the top of a Georgia pine,
And landing without grace ten feet below:
Seven-year-old ulna and radius snapped and displaced.
I recall still the ether used to sedate me
While the doctor proximated the bones,
The months of itchy plaster cast holding my arm
While the bones healed and the muscles withered,
The cast serving to collect scrawled messages
And bludgeon my sister.
Perhaps in the next life I’ll be more careful,
More respectful of the only body I have,
Step back from the edge.
But in this life I have 200 more bones,
Each willing to sacrifice itself,
As payment for my next folly.
from Hemolymph Moon (2015)
Where Old Fliers Come to Roost
Ancient Eagle Press
Poem of the Month
Each month Ancient Eagle Press offers a poem appropriate to the season or the mood of our editorial staff. Poems may be new or drawn from existing AEP editions.