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Life Arts    H4'ed 12/29/21

Perfectly broken

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WHITE CANYON -   - 2017 - 10 - 22 Short Canyon hike (19)
WHITE CANYON - - 2017 - 10 - 22 Short Canyon hike (19)
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I would not hold it against you
If you stung me
If you were a bee.

I would gladly kill your chickens
If I were a fox.

Did I make any promises
Before I was cast a human?

Did I promise
That I wouldn't
Kill my enemy?
Eat red meat?
Cheat my neighbor?
Pollute the air and water?
Did I promise not to
Betray the Dreaming
Of the creation
That gave me life?

Did I promise anything
Before my mold was broken?

Or was my dream to be a whale?


A hawk?


A bobcat?



I followed the tracks of a young bobcat
Up the snowy drive.
I could see that it was not in any hurry
But I couldn't tell if it was hungry
Or just out for a stroll . . .
Its tracks were perfect,
Pressed into less than an inch of perfect snow.

As I followed it
I began to lose track of myself
As if I were the cat.

When I came to the edge of the field
The tracks changed direction
Heading for the pines.
I had to make a choice.

I decided to go home
To finish being imperfectly human,
Perfectly broken.


Yes, I did follow the tracks of a young bobcat. We had family visiting over Christmas who brought their dog. My cat, Ayla, slipped outside and was afraid to come back in. When I went out to look for her, I saw the bobcat tracks heading up the drive. At first I thought they were Ayla's but I quickly realized they were too large, and yet they were small for a bobcat. I decided to follow them after breakfast and that is how I entered into the bobcat's dreaming. Just by staying with the tracks, going where they led, I found myself passing through parts of the forest where I never ordinarily venture. And I was intuiting certain things about the bobcat's humor or state of mind. It did not seem to be hunting or maybe it was hunting, but rather casually. It seemed to be very relaxed, enjoying itself. I think we are just coming around to understanding that animals are not eating machines as they are depicted by science. That they actually enjoy their lives now and then. It's not all about survival. I think that is the Darwinian mindset, a projection of the baked-in human obsession with always needing to be "on". So, by the time the tracks reached the edge of the meadow I had become half-bobcat and would have kept shadowing the tracks, but the sight of my house broke the spell and I chose to return to being fully human, and "perfectly broken".

The first part of the poem broaches this question of what is a perfect creation. I suggest that it might be an animal like a hawk or whale whose mind is not in conflict with itself. I imagine that I would have preferred being born a hawk or bobcat but for some reason that was not permitted. But why? Why was I "cast a human?" The poem subtly explores this question.

(Article changed on Dec 29, 2021 at 11:08 AM EST)

(Article changed on Dec 29, 2021 at 11:43 AM EST)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of several nonfiction books, a collection of poetry, "Children to the Mountain" and a memoir, "Finding Myself in Time: Facing the Music" Over the last few years he has begun calling (more...)

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