A Walk on Blacktail Mountain Road

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Okay God, speak to me.
I've told You how I feel
With a few prayers; to wit,
Handled my part of this chat;
Now I'm waiting for Your side of it.

Hmm, what an old tractor in that yard;
A red-brown hulk, oxidizing away,
It's steel wheels stilled and silent.
Wonder why that small fence,
Low and picket-style, squares around it,
So white against the aging metal hue
And the dark green
Of the birthing Spring carpet.
Someone treasures that breathless machine;
Maybe it's the oldest tractor in Montana;
A symbol of human endeavor.
How we try to pile up treasures,
Which cannot really last;
Physical is fleeting,
As Jesus warned in words succinct:
Better to deposit in the eternal mint,
Or something to that effect,
A wise warning for the elect.

Still, that tractor, slated for rust-dust--
The fence will go, too--
Represents a farmer's life;
Droning around his rolling fields;
Turning over dozing soil, breaking it down,
Cultivating, laying a blanket of manure;
Employing age-old techniques, sure
To grow the crops prolific and tall
With sufficient sun and rainfall.
Then those wheels would roll from the barn
For the ultimate farming test:
The treasure chest of a hillside harvest;
Chugging down the colorful rows
To cut and bundle and rake the reward
Of months of toil coming to a close.

So it became part of the means
To pay for tuition and buy the jeans;
To feed the animals and the family,
Residing within the barbed wire;
Or perhaps to repair an aging steeple,
In support of values a farmer holds dear.
Is that why the wasting metal is revered?

A recollection sweeps in with the breeze--
It's a "carpe diem" moment--
The priest's words beset,,
"The sun rises, the sun sets,
"And all that matters
"Is what we do for God."
Yes, to a point, but people count, too.
Jesus had it nailed:
"Love God, love your neighbor."

Carpe diem; our time shortens;
Each daily awakening a fresh gift from God
To meet the challenge of the hours.
How best to use the time;
Playing, working, loving,
Affirming; grasping for more wealth
Or seeking eternal, rust-proof coins?
The tractor, dead and useless;
Its work complete and service spent,
Is like our bodies; the question--when?

The train of thought is a runaway,
Flowing with my feet;
A few more paces down the hill
Some sparrows hop busily
In the dust of the gravelly road,
Nipping away at pebbles.
The handful flutters off; one is still,
Its remains remain, a glance reveals
Its watch is over; eyes now tiny stones;
That little heart that beat so fast
Has stilled; its fragile brown wings
Inert, flutter only in a puff of wind.
Never again will this miniscule creature
Flit through tree branches
Or soar freely in upper flight;
Or stitch up a nest
With an affectionate mate;
We also face a similar fate
--Carpe diem, carpe diem--
Before it's too late.

Is this an agricultural day?
In my inner vision, somewhere deep,
An ear of corn looms yellow;
Its neat rows are as teeth
And I think--all those kernels;
Thanks, Lord, for giving me one today.
But wait; there are rows and rows;
Maybe I'll bite off a whole line
During these mysterious hours,
Through a spiritual walk and messages
From God, His people and His Great Book.
Perhaps by the end of my days
I'll consume a whole corncrib full;
Then the cobs will revert to the soil
And like my body nourish and enrich,
But I'll smile from my lofty perch
So far away, an immeasurable span.
Until then, each kernel-tooth
Will expand and brighten my day
And bring color to my life,
Like a butterfly emerging
From chrysalis to flight.

My mind churns in rhythm
With eager feet and wide-open eyes
As there, fixed against a blue patch of sky,
On a chilled, windy day,
A hawk is suspended
A kite without a string.
Its wings tip, its head swings;
Not unlike the sparrow's work-day,
To peer and seek out vulnerable meals.
The raptor appears as inky black.
That's how I was, trapped by a dark night
Until the rays of Christ shot through:
"The Light that shines in the darkness,
"And the darkness grasped it not."
But I did, because of grace.

At the next station, toward my destination,
Stands a roadside dog;
Black, immobile, menacing,
Getting larger by the minute.
As I approach, uneasiness borders on
Apprehension and catapults to fear.
But to my relief, it wheels and scampers away,
Ducking off into some hillside trees.
My concern became the animal's;
Another shadowy stain in my life
Blotted out by a mystical force.