Painted Poem #1/21

Indian Rope Trick

It’s the mystery’s favorite trick: weaving the intricate rope of someone’s life, then lifting it for them to climb and somewhere near the top… disappear.

Two weeks ago my brother told me he’d shot nine holes. Pain was lousy, he said, but went on to practice punchlines he’d been designing for his meeting with the Maker.

“I’m not afraid to die,” he said, with that curious wonder he had since the diagnosis. But this time he added he had no regrets. “None worth counting, anyway.”

I’d taken my phone on my walk and was talking to him from the mountain, at the level of ravens and hawks. He’d had a wonderful life, he said, which caused the rope of it to rise and grow taut so we could see it in all its color: There in his yellow

cowboy pajamas with his champion Alaskan yoyo. There in the glow of his cherry-bomb days. There at the helm of the stolen tractor on a joyride over the golf club greens. And look: now he’s doing figure eights on his forklift in the basement of Kodak.

And now he’s blasting off, bottle-rocket-style, to international VP. See him there in Paris and Philly? See him adrift on South Carolina’s inlet seas?

And here come the whole buzzing swarm of friends drawn in by the honey of his ease. Ah… we seem to have followed that rope right up through the clouds.

“I couldn’t have asked for more,” he said. And his exhale filled the valley so the hawks lifted up on the rising air.

And we said goodbye.

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