the fable of the homesick woman

We built a research station on our Moon…

Beautiful both in design and function.

And the resident scientists were also beautiful—beautiful in the way they worked.  Immersed.  Relentless.  Devoted.

Nonetheless, they’d take a break occasionally and gather by the big picture window.  There, they’d sip a mint julep, while gazing out at Mother Earth.

Though no one said as much, they all felt a little homesick at such times.  Despite the bliss this group found in the quiet clarity of Moon life…

…most, if not all, missed the noise and confusion of our world.  Maybe “home” is the place we can never stop loving—regardless of the pain that love can bring.

Maybe.

In any case…

…one scientist suffered the separation more than the rest.  After the others had all turned in, this woman would don her suit, then sneak outside…

…and with her boots deep in lunar dust, she’d fill her eyes with that blue orb and its dizzy swirl of cloud.  In those moments, she would nearly drown in an up-swell of love.

Having never known such depth of feeling before, she feared its loss.  And so, she kept postponing her departure.  But finally, she could postpone no more.

Back on Earth, she found a dream life waiting to be realized.  After reconnecting with friends and family, she continued the work she loved at an institute that loved her work.  In short time, she met a mate and together they created a harmonious home life.

Yet occasionally in the solitude of a late night, she’d tiptoe out to the backyard and lift her eyes to that cool-burning Moon…

“Oh to be on that strange gray island again,” she’d say to herself.  “To gaze at Mother Earth and dissolve myself in an overwhelming wave of feeling once more.”

Then, as the sweet pain of yearning again rose from deep within, she’d sigh with satisfaction.  No—she had not lost what she feared she might lose: that intense sense of longing.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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fable of the extraordinary customer service person

This story exposes the truth of a woman…

…who handled the customer service desk at a bank.

Because this woman possessed extraordinary patience and diplomacy, she made that difficult job seem relatively easy.

As a result, most took her for granted…

That is, except for one especially perceptive customer, who told her, “You are extraordinary indeed!”

“No,” she said, “I’m just an ordinary person doing an ordinary job.”

“Such modesty!  Extra extraordinary!”

Running his bony fingers through his beard, he continued: “I have an offer for you—an extraordinary job with extraordinary rewards.”

“Actually, I’m quite happy here.”

But though skeptical, the woman was intrigued.  Those who are secretly extraordinary often secretly desire something more…

So she heard him out—listened to his absurd proposal.  Beyond nonsense it was.

When he said, in parting, “At least consider it,” she answered, “Okay, I will”, though her thought was: “absolutely no way”.

And yet, three days later, on the next bank holiday, she stood at the bottom of a hill by the park near the edge of town, trying to make a final decision…

I know that old man’s just playing a prank, she told herself.  But I do need the exercise.  And besides, I’ve never been to the top of this hill.

And so, following his instruction, she slowly began to wind her way up the green hillside.

As she rose, the hill transformed.  The air grew cold.  Jagged rocks replaced the soft grass.  Wisps of fog blew in, obscuring all around her, obscuring the summit.

The climb became both steeper than expected and longer than expected.

The bank woman knew she should go back, yet hated to stop.  Finally, after much grappling and heaving, she arrived at the top…

On the peak, just above her head, she found a thick flat slab of rock.  And on the rock, a nest the size of a lifeboat—an intricate weave of delicate reeds.

In the nest sat a single golden egg—big enough to fit someone her size inside or even someone larger.

She reeled from the shock of that sight.  Though the old man had told her what she’d find, she said, “I’m not seeing what I’m seeing.”

Something so extraordinary couldn’t possibly be part of her ordinary world.

But as she ran her hand over its smooth cool surface, the woman had to admit the egg felt real enough.

Get the hell down from here right now, she told herself.

But as she turned away, she remembered an extraordinary incident from her ordinary childhood:

One summer afternoon in the garden, she’d heard a small high voice say, “Help me!”

Looking down, she’d found a green caterpillar standing up on the leaf of a rubber plant…

…and immediately run away.  However, a few moments later, curiosity bested her fear and she returned…

…only to discover the caterpillar gone.  As an adult, she doubted what she’d heard and seen then.  Nonetheless, she still felt a sense of opportunity lost.

And so, once again, she decided to do as the wise one had instructed.  She pawed and scrambled and kicked until she’d hoisted herself atop the golden egg.

She then planted herself, cross-legged, and waited.  The old man had not said what might hatch—or if anything actually would.  He’d only said: sit still.

But as the minutes became an hour, and that hour became another hour, the woman of the bank felt more and more the fool…

Definitely a joke on me, she told herself.  Maybe there’s a hidden video camera.  I could become a laughingstock.  Serves me right, I suppose.

She then blinked once, twice, three times—trying to clear a gray speck from her field of vision…

But that speck quickly became a feathered gray dart.  Then that dart became an eagle headed straight toward her.

When she caught sight of its piercing golden eyes, the breath stuck in her throat.  Her bowels loosened a little too much.  Goosebumps peppered her arms.

Nonetheless, she managed to slide down from the egg with care and patience.  She lowered her head in a servile manner as the dark heat of the eagle fell over her.

Suddenly, the fabric of her jacket lifted at the shoulders.  Her feet left the ground, her legs dangled free…

Forcing her eyes open, she saw their small shadow passing over the patchwork of farm fields below—like a manta ray it moved.  She felt a gust of wind every time the eagle flapped its wings down.

She realized they were headed in the direction of the town lake.  She feared its cold deep waters.

Death seemed not only a possibility but a probability.  But what could she do?  An idea occurred to her—a silly idea it was—but at the moment, she saw no better option.  She would do what she knew best.  She would talk to the mother eagle as if to an irate bank customer:

“Ma’am, I believe we can settle this matter to everyone’s satisfaction…”

With the reassuring calm of an airline pilot, she drawled on and on.  She talked of the miracle of birth.  She spoke of a mother’s protective love.  She cooed.  She hymned.

And in short time, the eagle turned away from the lake.  But did the woman’s soothing sounds actually move the big bird to mercy?  Were her honeyed tones the reason the eagle coasted delicately down…

…and deposited her back in the park?

All we can say for certain is: that bank woman acted with extraordinary poise under the circumstances.

However, even an extraordinary person needs an extra day off to settle her nerves after such an extraordinary event.

When she returned, everyone told her, “We’re so glad you’re back—no one can handle the customer service desk the way you can.”

Yes, she felt gratified.  But after her experience with the eagle, she began to wonder if there might be more to herself than she realized.  She decided she needed to discover the truth of who she was—she would not run away!

Besides, maybe it’s time I step aside and let someone else learn the desk, she told herself. Let someone else reap the benefit of this education—obviously, it can help you in many areas of life.

Some claim, after she left the bank, the extraordinary woman reconnected with the old wise man and learned much from him.

I don’t know, but I don’t think so.  I think she’s quite capable of learning what she needs to learn by following her own self.

That wise man had already served his purpose: he’d provided a little push…

She’d only responded to the push because she felt pulled in that direction.  That extraordinary direction.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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the fable of the exceptional traveler

A man once needed a hat…

…and knew he could find the best in his own country—

—because his country made such exceptional hats.  A country of such exceptional hats must indeed be exceptional!

But he also needed a shirt.  An exceptional shirt to go with his exceptional hat.  So he traveled to a country that made exceptional shirts…

A country of such exceptional shirts must indeed be exceptional!

But he needed a coat to go over the shirt and also some things for his bottom half…

So he went next to a country that made exceptional coats…

…and then to a country praised for its beautiful boxer shorts…

…and then to a nation that stitched the most exquisite pants…and then to one that knitted superb socks…

…and finally, to complete his outfit, he visited a country that built splendid shoes from the soles up.

“Those countries are all exceptional!” the man exclaimed.  “No, they may not be exceptional in every way.  But each is exceptional in its own way.”

Though the man didn’t need any more clothes, he decided to keep traveling.  He went from country to country, discovering the exceptionalism of each one.

He’s returned to his own country recently, determined to tell as many people as possible: “We must learn from all these other exceptional countries.  When we do, we’ll be even more exceptional!”

He keeps spreading the word, not only because he loves his country, but because he now loves the whole world.

He believes that once his country sees what it can learn from other countries…

…it’ll want to share what it’s learned with the whole world.

What an exceptional world we might then become!

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
I’m Responsible: ebook

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fable of the race between the workhorse and the speed horse

So why did the slow workhorse want to race the speed horse?

Well, having heard the story of the tortoise and the hare, she had hope.

As for the speed horse…

She agreed to the contest because she wanted people to marvel at her swift grace.

However, at the starting line, the crowd cheered only for the workhorse.  The speed horse realized: no matter how grandly she ran, people would favor her heavy-footed opponent.

How unfair, she thought.  Yes, I’ve been blessed with speed.  But I have sacrificed much to develop my natural ability.

And no matter how hard she worked, her parents criticized the effort.  No matter how fast she ran, they said she could run faster.  From her brother and sister, she received only stinging words of jealousy.

The gun sounded and the workhorse began to plod up the road, straining those bulky muscles to the maximum…

But the speed horse lingered behind, still pondering her dilemma.

As she watched her opponent huff and heave, she began to feel sorry for the poor beast of burden.  Imagine having to drag a heavy steel plow all day long!

Perhaps I’ll let that snail win, she thought.  Give her a highlight moment to ease a life of drudgery.  I’ll just sit myself down for awhile.

But as the speed horse began to lower her legs, she felt a fierce hot pain deep in her chest.

As for what caused that pain…

…there’s disagreement.

Some say it came from a heart denied its true desire.

Others claim it was merely heartburn.  After all, she’d eaten a green apple earlier that day.

In any case, both groups agree on this point:

The speed horse believed the pain to be a message from her heart…

So she leapt up and bolted forward in a flash.

Spectators all along the road felt the rush of a gale…

…and glimpsed a streak of mahogany and silver with a long mane stretched out straight.  A wild boil of dust covered them in the aftermath.

But wait—a third group claims her decision wasn’t based on any internal pain.  They say the speedster made this quick calculation in her head:

Since I was a colt, I’ve run and run well.  I’ve always been known as a speed horse.  But what if I don’t run?  What am I then?

Fearing a loss of identity, the speed horse once again became a flowing mechanical motion of picture-perfect gallop.

Though they felt sorry for her opponent, the crowd then cheered the gleaming beauty of that otherworldly creature.

Some say she truly felt appreciated in that moment…

But others declare: she did not hear them, did not even see them.  No, her attention was focused on a mirage glimmering just above the distant horizon.  A silver-gray cloud of nebulous fog.  That dream image spoke to an unnameable desire now realized for the first time.

In an effort to obliterate that overwhelming desire, the speed horse ran all day and all night.  Finally, with the rising of the morning sun, she collapsed…

…but died happy because the desire ended with her death.

That version has much appeal for me…

…but from experience I know: the poetry of our lives usually remains hidden beneath the daily river of prosaic events.  So I’ve accepted this more mundane end to the tale:

The speed horse won many more races after that one.  However, like all the greats, she eventually succumbed to injury and age.  But though forced to retire to a gentle green pasture, she had enough good memories to pacify whatever twinge of desire remained.

As for the workhorse…

Her racing career ended with that disappointment.  She resumed her usual labors and worked very hard for a very long time.

Yet she was at least blessed in this way: when she couldn’t pull the plow anymore, her master was kind enough to let her live to the natural end of her days.

No, the race wasn’t a good memory for her…

…but it did, in time, become a great story.  In her later years, she often told the upstart colts of how she’d beaten a speed horse on a spring day, long ago.

Her overconfident opponent had lollygagged around, until it was too late.  “Yes,” she said, “the story of the tortoise and the hare is actually the story of how I triumphed against incredible odds!”

No, the workhorse wasn’t always honest.  But I think we should forgive her this little lie.  After all, she had to work very hard for a very long time.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
myth steps: poetry ebook

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fable of the hero’s return

author’s note:

To be clear: the returning hero could just as well have been a heroine.
 

FABLE OF THE HERO’S RETURN
(aka SHARING THE PRICE OF FIRE)

I laid myself down
on the mountain top
until
the thunder god finally blasted me
with a lightning bolt:

by this heroic action
I captured some flames—
yes, I sacrificed my well-being
so the people would have fire.

But when I returned home
—brandishing the torch—
that woman saw how charred and scarred I was
and said:

You’ve frazzled your nerves,
stammered your brain
so now
I’m bound to a tremoring shadow.

“The world and you
  will soon bless my offering,”
  I countered.

The truth is:
you did it for yourself—
now sit down
and let me apply the salve.

Okay, so I didn’t receive
the praise I’d hoped for…

yet I still felt blessed
because I realized she understood me

and not only accepted my foibles
but loved me enough to help me deal
with whatever demons might plague me
after my disastrous triumph.
 


© 2018, Michael R. Patton
Survival: poetry ebook

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the fable of the beautiful crow

Many or most know how the fox tricked the crow:

Fox said a beautiful bird such as Crow must have a beautiful voice.
He wanted to hear that voice!  He must hear that voice!

Finally, Crow succumbed to Fox’s flattery.  But when he opened his mouth to sing…

…he lost hold of the cheese in its beak.

Fox snapped that cheese up in a blink and trotted off with a smile of sweet satisfaction curling his lips.

That much, we know.  But how did Crow deal with the loss?  With the pain of being fooled?

Yes, I gave in to my vanity, he told himself.  But does that mean I don’t have a lovely voice?

Crow then listened closely to his blatant knifing caw…

…and in short time, found beauty in that song.

He hurried to tell the other crows about his discovery.

“But you sound just like us,” they said.

“Well then, you must be beautiful too.”

The flock listened to their own voices to check…

…and yes!—they did hear lovely music.

Thus, from that day on, crows have constantly tested our ears with their convulsive cawing…

…demanding that we hear the beauty of their sound.

Yes, they may be vain.  But would we really want crows to hush their cawing?

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
dream steps: a blog

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the fable of Fox’s choices

Many or most know about the fox and the sour grapes…

We know how the fox leapt and leapt and leapt, but despite his fierce effort, couldn’t reach that luscious bunch of grapes dangling above him.

“Those grapes are probably sour anyway,” he said as he trotted off.

A valuable lesson about self-deception.  However, I can’t help but wonder…

What happened with Fox afterwards?

Maybe he never tried to jump for anything ever again.  Maybe he went for low-hanging fruit or the unguarded hen house.

Or perhaps he tried to compensate for that failure.  Maybe instead of doing less, he pushed himself to do more and more…using his anger as a driving force.

If we adopt that ending, I guess the fable has two morals, instead of just one…

But this is a new fable, not an old fable.  In our new fables, the endings are often open-ended.  We entertain possibilities.  We ask questions—but without expecting to find a single infallible answer.

For example:

What if Fox decided to never jump again—but only after listening to his heart and realizing: deep down, he really wasn’t the jumping type.  No, he preferred to keep all four paws on the ground.

On the other hand…

…what if he did try to compensate and as a result, rose high in the world…

…but indulged in self-deception all the way up…

…oblivious to his deeper motivations?

In that case, can we truly call him a success?

My own beliefs may seem obvious by the way I presented these two scenarios…

However, this is a new fable, so I’m still open to argument.

© 2018, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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