Imperfect Willow Why — Darrell Petska

Imperfect Tense

Peace is an action word.

The yogi lying in savasana,
the meditater, the worshiper,
the nature lover know quietude,
but theirs is imperfect peace.

In our world of countries
saddled with bitterness and hate,
imperfect peace is the best
peaceable countries can know.

Peace is an action word
calming others’ fears,
seeking solutions to strife,
furthering the common good.

Only by peacing together
our one human family
can we finally say
peace nears, peace is at hand.

Like the Willow

What must be done
when venomous discord
coils about the branches
of one’s family tree?

Little help perjuring belief,
insisting it’s merely wind’s hiss
or leafy innuendos we hear,
not contention’s noxious voice.

And what good pruning limbs?
Discord’s poison planted,
all limbs are stricken:
the whole tree suffers.

Look to love, most patient love,
that chemistry of shared blood,
to reclaim lost harmonies,
grant the tree its growth—

Like the willow, family is resilient:
its members may toss and weep,
assailed by stormy weather,
yet love’s roots will to prevail.

Why Had We Fought?

My enemy and I, grappling among weeds, failed to see a pit into which we plunged. Hurting from our fall, we kept to opposite sides in that dark, dank hole, glaring hatefully at each other. Overhead, the surface loomed beyond our combined height. Beside us lay the remains of a deer that must have crashed through the pit’s flimsy cover rotting in pieces about us. Our breaths returning, we called out. No one answered. Our only hope rested with each other.
The pit likely had served as an ancient cistern. Eroded bricks jutted from its sides. Seeing the task before us, we began sullenly to fashion a platform from which one of us might loft the other skyward. Unspoken went the question: who would be lofted? We worked with distrust, checking our anger.

As the first day passed into the second, and our bodies weakened from lack of food or water, we began guardedly to speak—first, how best to bolster our crude platform, then about our families. Time and our waning strength worked against us as we clawed bricks from the cistern wall and mounded them with dirt to increase our platform’s height. Even in the night’s darkness, we worked by feel, our bodies bumping against each other as we furthered our plan.
On the third day we made our attempt. The question weighed heavily between us: who first would rise toward freedom? We sat quietly, staring in the gloom at each other. Finally, we drew a circle in the dirt. My enemy’s pebble landed closest to the center. I would do the lifting. He vowed to return.

I knelt on our makeshift platform, and he climbed atop my shoulders. Slowly I struggled to standing, raising him up. Though I couldn’t see his progress, I heard him straining to reach a handhold, felt his weight slowly lift from my shoulders—and I knew he’d gone over the top.
I waited, fearing I’d been left to die. Would I have returned? But at last a knotted rope trailed down to me—he’d kept his word

Once we stood together at the surface, we peered down into the prison from which we’d raised each other. We shook hands, our eyes meeting. Why had we fought? Parting without rancor, we returned to our families, never to fight again.

©2021 Darrell Petska
All rights reserved

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One thought on “Imperfect Willow Why — Darrell Petska

  1. Thank you, Darrell, for sharing these with us! I liked the hopeful tone of the poem’s ending. I also enjoyed the short story very much. How much good could we all accomplish if we worked together, as the men in the story did, I wonder? 🙂 Why does it take a life or death situation to bring us together to work in harmony?


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