Even though he was tightening lug nuts
his thoughts leaned against a tree
in mountains far away,
sitting so still that life
went about daily tasks.
A cottontail dislodged rotting leaves
stopped and sniffed,
scratched a soft, pink ear
and disappeared behind a log.
Purple Lupine caught the air
to dance in a spot of sun.
California poppies littered the slope
beside the trail.
The sound of water was everywhere.
Three quail bobbing their heads
in unison, their pointed feather hats erect,
marched with purpose towards the sound.
In the garage the air was stiff
with the smells of gasoline and oil
when a shadow fell across his vision
and his heart moved from the peace place
and skipped and jumped him a warning.
Slouched in front of him
was a man with mean eyes.
The man’s face contorted
then dislodged a sound,
belched an acid laugh into the garage.
It echoed unpleasantly
across the meadow
where the mule deer, squirrel
and black bear roamed
and a dark and menacing cloud
formed over the sun dappled place
of poppies and lupine.
When he saw the intent that waited
in those eyes, his hands became fists
and he watched as the lug nuts
rolled across the floor and settled.
a question came up from inside the cave
where the sleeping bear had wintered
and the question was hungry for answers.
He searched the verdant grass
and the trail that looped
from years of thirst,
towards the river that flowed
in moving crystal light.
He followed it across the years
into the man made lap of knowledge
that brought pipe and hoses
and he knew the answer.
The answer was a civilized thing
and it dripped now into his anger,
where violence waited to lunge
with the full black weight of its hunger,
fed by his father’s words,
echoed through generations
of fathers and sons,
"Be a man."
He heard his father’s voice
softening with the opening of his hands
and his father’s name for courage
gave up and settled into whispers,
as the mean eyes became confused,
tension slumped and defused
and a sigh emptied into the garage,
lingered a moment