Saturday, July 17, 2004

the loneliest animal in the forest 
under the green awning of live oak trees
along the creek beds
where little boys  catch tadpoles in dixie cups
and old men tend to smoking barbeque grills
azaleas are blooming
camellias and gardenias, too
the park a mass of color
and wonderful smells
the birds sing joyous songs of creation
in the air a chorus of buzzing
bees hovering over the gaping mouths of lilies
and bold squirrels daring to retrieve
corn chips from the hands of project children
momentarily disengaged from their teeter-totters
swings and merry-go-rounds
but he doesn't notice
like prey instinctively listening for the trigger
he whips his head from side to side
looking over first one shoulder
then the other
scanning the horizon
will he find what he is seeking
will he find the one
who will make him forget
even for one second
the miserable life of lies he leads
his face bears the signs
of desperation
of a loneliness so profound
a chasm so deep
that no fleeting moment of pleasure will ever satisfy
for he is seeking himself
a self he has long since learned
never to love
never to acknowledge
never to trust
never to affirm
a self now so atrophied and withered
the image of god it once bore so plainly
now unrecognizable
he pretends that he is the hunter
the one seeking prey
seeking to be sated
of the gnawing hunger
for intimacy
for a moment's forgetting
for an accidental lapse
into total honesty
but it is he who is prey
the men in their binoculars
and walkie-talkies
their wiretaps hidden
under the scanty "plain clothes"
they believe he will trust
just long enough
for the net to drop
the snare to swallow
the trap to snap shut
its iron teeth digging into
his vulnerable exposed paw
and then he is caught
though he can never prove it
no one will believe him
he will be guilty as charged
from the moment of arrest
berated, dehumanized enroute to booking
public humiliation to follow
on newspaper local pages
and tax payer funded websites
his so poorly kept secret now out
his co-conspirator wife
who never believed the stories about working late
now forced to face
the web of self-deception she has spun
the "i always knew it" spoken in whispers
behind his back
at work
at home
at church
where he will once again give his soul to jesus
and pray to be delivered
of this demon which possesses him
appearing unchecked in his dreams
and emerging with the shadow's power
in moments of weakness like these
wreaking of whiskey
though he tries to forget
he knows the trap is being laid
he tells himself he'll be careful
he won't get caught this time
he knows he is lying to himself
once again
like always
and yet he has returned
to the boardwalks and paths
lined with lilies and water maples
seeking the unattainable
amidst the deceitful and treacherous
praying this time it will be different
and that the fire in his loins
and the abscess in his soul
will go away
even if just for a few fleeting moments
he is the loneliest animal in the forest
a creature beyond reason
beyond love
beyond self-respect
who surrenders his dignity
and sells his very soul
for ever-conditional affirmations
of a world who reviles his very being
and who seeks to redeem it
in danger-filled venues
of fleeting passion
and willful forgetting
            - Harry Coverston, 2004

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding. Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.


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