This is another installment in my series of poems I am writing and podcasting every month under the banner of One Poem Per Month for a Year. I wrote it as I watched my oldest son (age 9) playing basketball the other day and was amazed at his athletic abilities and I was wondering where this passion for sports came from (music was my thing). And we had just visited the San Diego Zoo, so animals were on my mind.
The Rhino and Gazelle/ Father and Son
The gazelle inside of you came from somewhere but not from me.
I am more like a crash of rhinos with heads lowered, eyes narrowed, horns raised up in defiant defense.
I am more like the lumbering giant than the fleet footed creature that you are,
darting, moving, skirting the horizon with energy and freedom.
You spring from one side of the world to the other with your motors on full,
an open field with nobody else in motion,
time slowed down to a crawl,
and all of us just watching, watching, watching,
as you surprise your opponent with stealth and speed.
No one expected that of you.
Certainly not me.
To the rhino, the gazelle is just a flash of a rainbow caught from the corner of the eye
and coveted as a dream that has been released to the stars
as if it were but a balloon on a string on a windy day.
No, the rhino remains firmly centered here on this Earth with gravity pulling on the mind
with weight and worry draped like an anchor around the neck.
I could never run like you. Never.
I was always the bull — the muscle — the brawn —
the man in the middle who threw the block and freed up others so that they could gain the glory
and I would often wonder at why it was that I was built so different from all of them
but the gazelle never gazes upon the rhino except in times of need.
And now I know. Now, I know.
I was built to protect the gazelle from others who want to tear down the beauty of the run
and twist in the imperfections, twist it into something ugly and painful
— already it has begun, the self-doubting, the impossibilities, the sound of other voices taking hold on your tongue–
and so I lower my horn and crash into the crowd, a raging rhino,
determined to protect you at any cost from the slow and steady pull of gravity in the world.
Peace (without cages),