The Universe

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness, This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

—Albert Einstein

The Animals

Forty feet from the front door,
a doe and two fawns
stand motionless before
a plush, seamless gown
of green. The grass tears
with a new day’s delight,
and an eager morning sun
smiles on the scene.

The speckled offspring
wait patiently as their mother
samples the surroundings
with senses sharply tuned.
Suddenly, as if on cue, a single-
file parade begins: back and forth,
back and forth. An obtruding
branch is managed smoothly
by the doe’s elegant leap,
the fawns’ casual bow.

After four passes they exit, and
my eyes strain after them
with unfamiliar longing.
At last I surrender grudgingly,
and plucking the newspaper
from an inconvenienced bush,
I proceed to the kitchen and
the regimen of practical routine.
But as I watch the steam
rise leisurely from my cup,
I steal one last moment
to muse that, if I had my way,
all the world’s saviors would
spend their first crucial days
in the company of the animals.

© 2009 Dennis Ference

The Healer

A butterfly flits earnestly—
box to bag, drug to dairy, produce
to poultry—prodding the random and
haphazard parade onward to the tireless
tempos of the checkout scanner’s beep.

True, it’s only a tattoo,
needled into that soft place
between index finger and
thumb at the back of the hand,
but the girl with the sparkling eyes
wears it like a badge, an emblem
of promise and possibility.

Her line is always longest,
conversation there always
freshest, the laughter
always freest. She rises up
like an oasis in an otherwise
dry and dreary domain.

After a bruising bout with fortune
and fate, I, too, am drawn to her
this day, not by concerns for speed
or efficiency, far less by fantasies
of seduction or allure, but by a simple
need to witness that healers still
mingle among us to breathe our air
and touch our wounds.

© 2009 Dennis Ference

At 65

(Our own reality is often starved
for our acceptance and love.)

He stares at him:
the man in the mirror–
the face indelibly marked
by time’s unrelenting crusade:
crown sparsely feathered;
beard coarse and grizzled;
brows sprouting feelers,
defiant and brash.

Their eyes lock for a moment
in the silence that grieves;
but still he resists concession,
still he withholds
the compassionate nod.

© 2009 Dennis Ference

Nature’s Way

(The art of living in the Now is, perhaps,
best discovered, not on our gadgets or in our
lecture halls, but in the simple contemplation
of Nature’s Way.)

Squirrel on a Wire

Dozens of poles
streak the landscape
like fingers poking the sky,
rigid, arrogant poking,
festooned with wires
that carry the hum
of human magic there
to here, here to there,
into a silent, faceless

Softly, now,
blood-red sunset
framing her form,
a lone squirrel deftly
journeys the wires
without flair or show,
suddenly pausing,
at rest, while time holds
its breath and a fragile world
frets over who will kindle
      the dawn.

© 2006 Dennis Ference