Ben

 

Blue-eyed, brown-haired Ben, you rascal,

With your bright teeth

Which are straight and strong like your character.

 

I liked the way you sat in class,

Turning your chair

So as not to miss anything.

Having opinions about everything,

You helped us solve world problems last semester.

 

Merrilee asked you to the dance.

For friendship's sake you took this chance

To inhale the glories of youth.

How many beauties did you date that semester?

All you wanted, I remember.

 

Yet spring love never unfolded its power.

But it will happen.

Then your spontaneous smile,

As natural as an eye blink,

Will confirm your intention to explore marriage

As we explored the lands north of St Anthony.

 

That day we thrust our senses into nature's bosom

And took my four wheelers

To push winter from our borders.

We tacitly understood the command

dart and soar like singing birds

Through the sagebrush-perfumed land.

 

Over the sand we chased the ancient path

Which led to pure, western adventure.

Later, silencing our motors, we felt

The muted serenity of a magical region.

 

For a season the peace was as gentle

As the breath of a sleeping child.

Then you saw the first deer.

 

Graceful as ballerinas, they pushed off from earth

And landed lightly back on the ground.

Effortlessly, these slow-motion dancers

Lifted forward and fell, lifted forward and fell.

 

Then stopping for a double take,

The phantoms raised their heads inquisitively,

Gathering information with their long, hand-spade ears

Which flicked from one position to another.

 

The beasts were so wild and strong

Yet looked so tame and vulnerable.

They, like Bambi and his herd, glimpsed over their kingdom.

Yet they were humble animals, nothing like the moose.

Their business was elsewhere,

So they bounded quickly over the hill.

 

Our memories snapped a picture

With all its thanks-be-to-God glories.

To the west rolled tan, sand dunes,

Stretching thirty miles or more;

To the east dawdled junipers and sagebrush,

Abundant on the grassy floor.

Overhead an Idaho-typical, springtime sky

Bore lazy, hazy, blue-white clouds.

 

Leaning west, the shrouded sun felt cool yet friendly.

To the north, fifty miles away,

An April storm painted oblique streaks

Which reached from the sky to the desert below.

Beyond the squall, like a bread knife,

Snow-covered mountains serrated the expanding horizon.

 

Riding on, we soon saw our first moose.

The offended bull reluctantly jogged a few feet away.

Like a creature with authority, he bellowed,

"How dare you invade my solitude

With your rude, unwanted intrusions.

Forget your illusions. This is my territory."

 

Resenting every forced step,

The critter shuffled away,

But he did not gallop or run.

And, if pushed in a corner,

This rover would attack anyone.

 

Throughout the afternoon in different locations,

We saw twenty moose or more,

One, two, and three at a time.

 

Eventually, although unspoken,

We wanted to find our broken way back to civilization.

So we generally rolled south,

Over dunes, sagebrush clumps, and obscure roads

Never seen before.

 

Through it all, my afternoon-adopted son,

You were mighty good company.

Although raised in Carolina green,

You appreciated this clean,

Wild setting of unique beauty.

 

How do we measure its worth?

The plants, dunes, and animals?

We sensed our duty: cherish and protect forever

This breathing, Fremont-County treasure.

 

2000 Allen Hackworth