A Man of No Small Feats

More Photos



Washed by warming sunlight
Behind his latest lair;
Perched on a patio chair,
Pensive, I capture bright
Thoughts and ponder and weigh
The quiet setting and array
Of canopied trees and a small lake:
A perfectly natural place to take
His stuff and enjoy the moon's
Beams and starlight rimming the leaves,
And so like him to seize
The moment and assemble new rooms.
For I have shared his hours
And horizons to hear him acclaim
An Hawaiian sunset in a pool of flame;
Soft green hills garlanded with flowers:
Jewels of a golf course configuration;
And delighted in his fascination
At sea birds, and porpoises keeping
Company, diving and leaping,
Spearing the blue water cleanly
With olive skins gleaming
While his sure hands are spinning
Off glistening nylon and then winning
It back into the reel;
Uncaring at an empty creel
And that the bait is nipped away
Leaving no slippery slim silver prize;
Beguiled by the surf and seagull cries
And the fresh caress of salty spray.

The Spell of the Links

In the cooler seasons
Or the summer's heat,
I have found riveting
Eyes that judge yards so well
And perceive where all balls fell;
The long-legged, easy stride
Down swelling fairways, the bag
Of clubs a faint burden;
Straps crossing strong shoulders;
The smooth, powerful swing
Sending balls with a sharp crack
To arch swiftly at distant targets,
Towering in flight;
Spinning softly to freeze
Near the red, blue or white banner
At the mercy of the breeze,
Fluttering or snapping
At the top of a stick capping
A lush carpet of velvet green.

Words don't always convey
But our spirits sync and seem to say:
"How perfect to play here,
"Indulging in what surrounds us:
"The white puffs of clouds
"Riding the blue sky;
"The gently rolling hills cradling
"Azure lakes and lazy creeks;
"The forests and pure air;
"The challenge of the game."

In Alabama we saw a crocodile
Hunkered down in low profile,
Like the tread of a large tire,
Dozing in weak sunlight near a brook;
Despite my hesitation
He insisted on a closer look.
He has been prone to notice
Great blue herons cart-wheeling
Away from intruding sportsmen
Toward more private dining
Where noises like gunshots
And strange airborne white dots
Don't suddenly arouse fear.
And we have spotted deer
And strolled past geese
And ducks and dark-shelled turtles,
Napping on rocks and fallen trees.

In our historic father-son matches,
Some capability I retain;
But time elapses and snatches
Skills; power tends to wane,
Eroding length from the tees;
Once pro-forma shots now tend
To veer in tangents, scattering
In hazards of bunkers or trees.
Now and then, I fend
Him off through a smattering
Of maintained expertise
And a few ingrained swing keys.
My victories were once assured;
That ended when he gained
A wife and mother who prayed
For his first narrow win
And it was answered, to my chagrin.
And now to my distress
His score invariably is best.
I still intensely seek a coup,
Macho-fevered, as players do.
But I sigh at realism's stab
When I peruse the final tab.
And so I envy his scoring binges
From mounds and gnarly rough
And sand and the fringes
Of the bulls eye where his radar touch
Propels putts from near and far
To make music in a metal jar.
Then and Now

During Little League, in younger days,
The family gathered to cheer
His increasing batting skills
And sharply-breaking curve,
Until he was snatched far away
Where his father had to serve;
And he could throw and catch,
And punt a football impressively far,
With a spiral more like a pass.
During a Delhi soccer match
With a step or two he boomed
A kick from way up-field
That made the opponents reel;
It flew high and true,
Away from the sun
And to the astonishment of everyone
Dropped into the twine of the net:
A point that goalie would never forget.

But sports are a small part
Of a human mosaic with awesome heart:
Facing surgery and even the end
Of life with chest opened,
He challenged the grim twins
With practical jokes and grins
That might have been feigned
To ease the family's concern and pain;
And later with suffering intense,
And courage that was immense,
He fought back with no trace of fear
Or complaint that we could hear.

Sometimes intimates with whom he deals
Don't comprehend the burdens he fields:
Guiding aircraft into safe berths
Back and forth from sky to earth
In treacherous weather; fog banks deep
Despite odd hours and lack of sleep;
And a wife and children to attend;
Building growing wealth to spend
On houses, ever higher and larger;
Household repairs and tending the larder;
Arranging meals and stoking the grill;
No task seems beyond his range of skill;
Again and again the telephone rings,
Adding to the list a few more things;
Asked about its constant chime,
He reflects and replies, "I don't mind."

When computers came online
To make new demands upon his time:
His giving spirit extended to sharing
Knowledge and helping hands and caring;
With a capacity to grasp the flux
Of changing technology that mucks
Up machines and frustrates, he'll reach
Out gladly to fix and teach
Those in distress with glitches
And screens that freeze and other hitches;
The guidance goes on for hours on end
For family and those who call him friend.

He tends toward reserve in conversations,
Preferring to listen on most occasions;
When he speaks though, to be sure,
His audience is captive for his words endure,
Springing from wisdom, a logical mind,
That builds as effective a case you'll find.

His dignity and bearing imbue
A presence graced by few:
A foundation of comfort for the fold
Of females and guests in his household
Who lean on his strengths,
For whom he goes to extra lengths,
As well as the fortunate group
Of those within his neighborhood loop.