Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Kindness

Banff, Alberta

The mother elk and 2 babies are sniffing
the metal handle of the bear-proof trash bin.

I remember the instructions for city people:
3 football fields of space between you &
the elk if their babies are with them.

I’m backing up slowly,
watching the calves run into each other
as they bend to eat grass/look up
at the mother at the same time.

The caramel color of their coat,
the sloping line of their small snouts &
I want to hold that beauty,
steal it for me,
but I’m only on football field # 2 & walking
into the woods past the lodge pole pines.

Their fragility, their awkward bumping
opens me to a long ago time—
a hand on the door,
I was walking in
to the psych hospital in Pittsburgh,
feeling broken and stripped down—
a hand on the door
from around my body

& I looked up to see the body
of a man, who said:
Let me get that for you—
a hand on the door
& the bottom of me

I couldn’t breathe for the kindness.
I couldn’t say how deep that went
for me.

I had been backing up, awkward
I had been blind to my own beauty.

Jan Beatty

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