for papa on his 70th birthday

a steady flow of water over centuries can cut a canyon
through rock so hard dynamite has to pair itself up with its own voice
over & over
to yell through the mountain a place that
will offer a path as well as a way;

from water, a persistent truth that strength whispers as well as roars,
that a soft brown river will shape the land
again & again –
no matter how many ways
heart meets hindrance;

a steady brown hand forms the landscape
my father calls god’s country –
water and wind, heightened by prairie dust: his soul a canyon.

a canyon isn’t a gap; it’s a gallery.

a steady brown hand of his own that has touched 100 times a hundred,
hearts set sail on a river of a thousand tributaries,
launched into limitless directions,
scattered out across the prairie to far cities & near farms –
planting courage through a kindness of belief that you are you &

you are enough

an easy wave of belief that here a tree will grow &
from that sparkling platte will spring a rainbow
or a snapping turtle,
that this
adoring child next to him
hanging on every word like a fish on a hook
will be let go to tell her own tale:

& she’ll tell the story of how that steady brown hand
belongs to the strong brown watershed of a man
who is both water & dynamite –
a geographer of the human heart
& the best teacher she’s ever had.

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