Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wild Animal Doctor

by Bryan Merck

Petesy is Pete’s wife.
She and Pete and I are fishing with shiners at Oak Mountain State Park.
A wild duck in some sort of distress has caught Pete’s eye.
The duck, a male Mallard, is a few yards down the bank.
It keeps dipping its head into the water.
It doesn’t fly off when Pete approaches it.

Pete sees the problem. The duck has a fishing lure in its mouth,
a minnow with two treble hooks. It stays in its spot on the bank
even with Pete hovering right above it.

Petesy sees the problem and gets emotional, crying a bit.
“Poor thing, Daddy, what can we do?” she laments.
Pete is already at work. He gets a bath towel from our picnic table
and a pair of needle-nose pliers from his tackle box.

Two of the barbed hooks have pierced the duck’s lower bill.
Pete moves close and in an effortless series of actions
drops the towel on the length of the duck and takes it up in his arms.
Petesy squeals in dismay. The duck tries to fight its way free.
Pete’s grip on it is sure, gentle, unyielding.

The duck and Pete sit down on the bank.
With a deft hand, he snips the barbs off the offending hooks.
The duck is quickly free of the lure.
Pete gently releases it into the water.

Petesy squeals in some sort of fit of increased love and devotion.
She hangs herself around Pete’s neck. I am truly amazed.
My opinion of him has just gone from “tolerable hill trash” to “amazing human being,”
a wild animal doctor. I am envious.

I immediately think of St Francis.
I have a statue of him in my garden, holding a refillable bowl of birdseed.
Pete is a tool user; tools are his natural extension of will.
Now he has shown himself to be a man of nature, too.
He possesses esoteric knowledge about internal combustion engines
and electromagnetic motors, even if there is  a computer associated with either.
He is versed in the ways of lumber and brick.

Life is smiling on Pete.
I can see trouble in his eyes.
If it involves an animal, he always abuses me about my leanings toward reincarnation.
He untangles himself from Petesy.

“Was that a relative of your’s, brother?” he earnestly asks.
Pete is now more than just a tongue-talking handler of venomous snakes in church.
He is escaping the clutches of samsara; he is approaching original mind.
“I know what you’re thinking, dude,” he says.

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