Friday, May 18, 2012

Circling above him was a hawk

 Anecdotal Evidence

A friend gave a talk to a women’s church circle yesterday
And I went to hear him;
His subject was his Quaker minister father
And being brought up in rural Iowa and Wisconsin

There were nine children born to this family
and my friend was the middle child
which gave him a perspective of up and down
from the ideal place, sandwiched by six other boys and two girls

When they would go riding in a wagon or a Model A
Sometimes people would stare and silently count
With their fingers, one, two, three, four………
And one of the brothers once leaned out and said,

“There’s NINE of us!”
The parents loved their children greatly;
Times were hard, and struggle to make ends meet
Was a fact of life for the well-knit family

Although the children thought it was just the way life was
Because making do was how everyone else
In their impoverished communities lived too
And their parents did not show much concern;

The father when someone broke a solemn tenet
Sent the child out to cut a switch
And he applied the discipline generously
Which seemed to break his heart

And after awhile it wore on him so hard
That he was doing all this switching
He said to them,
“You ALL go out and cut switches!”

When they came in, puzzled and worried,
The father said, “Now I want you all to
Switch ME!  I must be doing something wrong.”
The children complied, though astounded at this turn;

It was uniquely educational for most of them
To apply the lash to their beloved father
Which may have been behind
The creative idea;

Time went along and he still was unable to
Bring about right behaviour from his tribe;
Naughtiness prevailed, it seemed to him,
Too much, so he called the children to formation;

Forlorn, the tender father, caught
In a parenting vortex,
Looked up after holding his head in his hands
For a long silence, searched his nine children’s faces

And asked them, beseechingly,
 “Something is wrong here, I can’t seem
To get you to be good!  What are we to do?” Whereupon
One little boy said, “We could try whipping you again?”

All those children somehow got college educations
Though the father, who had the gift or oratory,
Only went through eighth grade before having to quit
School and work to support his ailing father’s family

He worked hard at several jobs beside what he got
As a small stipend from his ministry work
And he never complained or let the children
Know how close to the edge he was

My friend in his talk to the church ladies and me yesterday guessed
His father frequently asked the Lord how he was going to make it;
 Anecdotal evidence pointed to that:  One time the father,
Sometimes given to depression, trudged home through the field

Where he’d been farm-handing - he told his son
Much later in life - and he was anguishing how he was to
Be able to keep going, praying for strength, when all of a sudden,

A rabbit fell from the sky at his feet.
The father looked at it incredulously; then gazed
Upward, and there, circling above him,
Was a hawk.

[David Dix 10-9-2002]


A wooden file box made by my father
Leslie V. Dix, in a high school shop class
is a souvenir of him that I retain.

He kept file cards for his debating class in it
but I have modified it somewhat
by affixing a tortoise and a compass on the top

and inside I keep the Official Seal
of the Yibawean Society
an imprint to receive after a job well done.

People are known to keep something
showing The Yibawean Seal;
We really don't know why.


The two Quarters are still there this morning

Hidden beneath the incense burner
holding the swept-up sand of yesterday
the offering to the Buddha 
from the Rev's friend Noy is still there.

And so those funds shall remain, no matter how pressed
we may become for quarters to feed
the coin-operated washing machines
in the second floor laundry room.

Look at that wondrous finish
on the plastic Buddha.
It has the look of ancient stone.
Only the cracked hole beneath the burner

discloses the thinness of the (plastic!) medium.
Years of wintering in the back yard
where we placed bird seed in the summers
caused pools of ice in the dormant months

but the Buddha was a sentinel
sometimes beneath snowdrifts
maintaining its omnipresent
Mona Lisa smile

Thaws came and went.
The cupped-handed lap of the figure, blemished,
perhaps never meant to stand outside,
presented a lovely opportunity

for a follower of that faith,
a woman who has seen nasty things in woodsheds
but who now has found my good ally
and now hers: The Reverend.

She, they, with her children
will be back
and we will go to visit them
and have egg rolls.

If I see a Buddha there
I will leave an offering.

(and that's Native American:  Chief Seattle)