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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Walker Road

I have a friend I’ve never met—
don’t even know his name—
don’t even know if anything
about us is the same.

We meet most every day it seems
about the same ol’ place.
I know it’s him from
little more than glimpses of his face.

Our eyes have never met for long.
We’ve not exchanged a word.
I speak. He speaks, too, I think,
but neither voice is heard.

He doesn’t know where I live,
but I’ve seen him at his gate.
If he’s stepping out I’m early;
stepping in I’m late.

You see, he walks his dog like clockwork
on the road I take to school,
repeating each step, each pause,
each turn, each wave it seems as a rule.

On dark snowy morns he ambles—
even before the plow—
in boots and a hood and tan cover-alls
that match the coat of his chow.

I’m confident he knows my car.
Each time we intersect
he raises his small flashlight,
and I blink my brights in respect…

to patterns of life, though routine
they show faithfulness just the same.
I’ve learned this from the walking man
though I’ve never learned his name.

T.K. © Copyright 2007, Patterns of Ink

Update: Last weekend I needed a personal sample of rhyming "quatrains," a form I don't often write in. So this morning, when I passed this faithful walker and his dog (as I do everyday in the early morning darkness on Walker Road) these thoughts came to mind and I squeezed them into "form" (which is why I don't often write in quatrains). Because I opened the building this morning, I had time to post them before morning meeting.

At the end of a long day, I remembered the lines, and it occurred to me to share them with him. I made a copy and dropped it in his road-side newspaper box on the way home.

A few hours later my phone rang, "Hello, Tom. This is Ralph..." the call began. He thanked me for what I wrote. We visited for several minutes—one topic led to another and neither of us was in a hurry. I learned that he's lived in the area all his life most of which he was a milkman for the old Farr Dairy just past where he turns around with his dog each day. (The dairy has long-since closed and was converted into a commercial wood-working shop there on Farr Road.). Come to find out...I know Ralph's daughter (and grandson, of both he is rightfully proud). It's a small world—and sometimes it becomes pleasantly smaller.

I'm so glad he looked up my number and called me. He wondered why I wrote it today. I really had no idea why something I see so often suddenly seemed noteworthy and why it occurred to me to share such a quickly-written piece with someone so unexpectedly. I've never done anything like that before. It's strange how seemingly insignificant threads of life intersect—and why and where and how? Those were my thoughts when Ralph thanked me again and said, "You couldn't have picked a better time to do this... today is my 80th Birthday."

(Sometimes life is sort of like a Providential Twilight Zone. =)


Blogger SusieQ said...

What a nice thing to do in sharing your poem with the man who inspired it.

It reminds me a little of a time years ago when I would take a particular route to work just so that I could treat my eyes to the well manicured lawn and flower beds of a house on the route. The people who lived there took such care of their lawn and flowers that I don't know why they were never featured in a magazine like House and Garden. I enjoyed their flowers so much that one day I decided to write them a note thanking them for the pleasure it brought me. They did not bother to look up my name in the phone book and give me a call, but I bet they appreciated my thank you note.

It never fails that you meet someone and discover that you have something in common with them. Yes, it is a small world.

Oh, and your poem....very nice.

11/1/07 10:21 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

A very nice poem indeed. I enjoy poetry very much especially the classical American poets of the 19th and early 20th century.

It just goes to show the good things you do will come back to shine on you and help someone else too with out even trying.

I love dogs and I always to stop to talk with dog owners about their dogs. I have made a little friend of a pretty little Border Collie at the other end of the road that leads to my house. I stop and roll down the window when he is out in the yard and I say "where's your ball?" he goes and gets his little blue ball and runs around his house really fast as Border Collies do while I sit and watch and laugh. Gosh, I love dogs and one day I will get another one.

12/1/07 10:13 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

My brother is real big on decorating his house for Christmas and someone once left him a note. It meant a lot to him. There's a funny story about the time he froze his rear-end to the roof.
It's posted on December 17 2004:

I've noticed the nice lines of verse you post from poets I used to teach in class. Are you familiar with "Mountain Woman" by Debose Heyward? It's hard to find but a powerful poem. Since I know you're new to Patterns, I'll point you to a story about our first dog posted in late October 2006.
Sounds like you're ready for a dog. If you like small dogs, we've had a Westie for 8 years, and he's been great.

12/1/07 7:12 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

It's been almost five years now since I had to take my partner in crime to the vet. He's buried in a heart shaped box at his favorite place at the lake where we used chase that big ol wild cock pheasant. I love dogs but I don't know if I'm prepared to go through the pain of having to take my best friend to the vet ever again.

My friend was a big ol black lab and golden retriever mix. His parents were at a boarding kennel that belonged to a friend of mine that bred goldies. The father, a pure bred Black lab, got out of his kennel and found a female Golden that was ready and few months later three all black "golden retrievers" were born. Shadrach was the largest and my friend's sister adopted him. Soon he was way too big for his surroundings and she asked me to take him and I did.

This dog turned out to be somewhat unruly no matter the amount of training but was a natural bird hunter and he had around a thousand birds shot over him in his hunting career.

One day while hunting pheasants in a new area in Schuylkill (pronounced skool kill) County, Pa we came upon a very deep and very fast running stream and I thought “I must keep this crazy water dog out of that creek”. So we hunted for a while and then it was time to get him back to some water to cool off. Before I could put him to heel and leash he bounded off around the bend of the path we were on. I heard the splash as he jumped into the creek. I thought "oh no" and I ran to get him but it was too late, he had jumped in and been swept away by the powerful stream. I was devastated and out in the middle of nowhere. I felt somewhat panicked and I began to turn around to go search for him downstream. Just then, I heard a “thunking” sound like the sound of a splash a paw would make swimming and a faint whimper. I looked around and under the roots of a fallen tree there was that knucklehead dog hanging on for dear life to those roots. I had to shimmy out on that fallen tree and with just one chance to grab him by his collar I grabbed him and pulled him up with everything I had. I got him up on the root ball and I dragged him back down that fallen tree with my arms around his body right behind his front legs to the shoreline.

By the time I got to the shoreline I was exhausted and I laid there for a moment before I let him go. We were both exhausted and shaking like leaves on a tree. I let him go momentarily to get his leash and he took a look at the water and looked back at me, I said nothing but gave him an angry stare and he heeled to get leashed, easily, this time.

I don’t think either one of us ever forgot that experience because at the lake where he is buried I gave him full privileges to jump in the water at anytime he felt like it but every time we would go hunting in some new place he would hunt very close and would wait until I said it was OK to go in the water.

I once read somewhere that all dogs go to heaven. I believe that Corky and Shad are waitng there for us.

13/1/07 1:12 PM  
Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

I've always had a difficult time writing poetry. I don't think I'd have the courage to leave a poem in someone's newspaper box. For some reason, I think if I did that, my neighbors would say I've finally lost it. Nicely done on your part, and on his birthday too!

15/1/07 2:03 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Now that you mention it, JR, If he hadn't called me, I'd prbably be wondering if he thought some guy "had finally lost it." It is an unusual thing to do. (We live miles apart so I guess it wouldn't matter.)
Yesterday, a lady who walks daily on the same road (and who attends our church) told me that Ralph told her about it as they passed...so in this case, it worked out. BTW, Ralph's extended family had a nice birthday gathering for him Saturday night.

15/1/07 10:18 AM  

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