(Bald Eagle, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels,2000)
Asking directions to the high road,
I got shrugs and blank stares
yet knew there were two roads-
both led into infinity
both coursed through
all manner of life with pitfalls, trenches
where legs were broken
skulls rattled loose from moorings
like ships in high winds, dangerous waters.
What was the difference
and why should it matter?
The effort cost
energy regardless the choosing.
An old man sat at the crossroads,
a bum, grizzled gray hair
sprouting porcupine’s quills,
rheumy, pale eyes staring at the world–
little interest in what passed by.
I asked him the way to the High Road
and with a toothless grin
he stared at my feet, my hands,
lifted his eyes to my face.
I thought him mad and cursed myself
(asking questions of a fool!)
was moving away when I heard his voice:
“Did I know of the eagle and crow,
how they soared upon thermals
higher and higher
became dark, formless specks upon a limitless sky,
lost to human eye, invisible even to gods?”
I thought him crazed and started away-
he cackled and spat on the ground.
Something made me turn, startled,
And saw the wisdom of Solomon in his
now- shining eyes.
“The crow harries the eagle, the eagle flies higher.
Vengeful, annoying crow flies round eagle’s wing
turning this way and that, yet the eagle flaps upward
soars upon thinning air until the crow
breathless and spent, drops to the common ground-
falls to his death.”
“The High Road, the path of the eagle.
The low road, the path of the crow,
mingling with dullards
daring nothing, with eyes cast downward
only saving a bit of energy
learning nothing of worth.”
Silently he sat, an old man
eyes glazed with age and fatigue.
With a nod to his wisdom, a toss of a coin
I gathered my strength and pushed onward,
Upwards, the lift of eagles, now under my limbs.
Tags: High Road