Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dear Ides of March: You Don't Scare Me.

It’s my dad’s 85th birthday today. He’s in a nursing care facility with advanced prostate cancer. He’s had it for a long time, and he’s periodically refused treatment and defied the odds. Recently, one of the cancer’s rogue tumors ended up pressing on his spine, which left him unable to walk. Surgery relieved the pressure but didn’t restore his ability to walk. He does have sensations in his legs, though, so he pushes himself to regain his mobility, doing his own PT on the sly. He is realistic but unbelievably optimistic. Dang, I hope I inherited his determination gene. Happy birthday with love & admiration, Dad.

My dad once told me he was the reincarnation of Caesar. Kidding or not, he IS kind of like Caesar who, in spite of warnings, trusted that things were gonna be a-okay. So for my dad’s birthday, and for the spring geese flying over by the thousands right now, and for the return of the robins, here’s my annual poem about warnings, winter, realism, hope, and optimism…all things South Dakotans (and my dad) have in spades…


The seer was right to warn us,
beware the ides of March.
It’s a dangerous time, peering
through iced windows at the jeweled
tease of crocus and daffodil.
We’ve weathered another season
of deep-freeze, locked up tight
in muscle and mind. We’re tired
of winter’s grey and gritty leftovers.
But this is no time to get careless,
toss a floorboard heater through
the beveled glass and go out,
where Spring flashes her flannel petticoat
embroidered in pinks and greens,
leaves us gaping, breathless,
in air still cold as a knife blade,
stripping off the down.

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