I was visiting with my parents over Memorial Day weekend and my dad mentioned wanting to write a new song to perform at church for Fathers’ Day weekend.  I told him that I would happily write a poem for him that he could then use his genius to configure into a song.

Often I’m overwhelmed by words that feel like they are flowing as illusively as water and I’m racing to capture them.  I knew that the poem would simply come to me rather than planning out time to write it.

If I allowed my mind to wrap itself around the magnitude of what I was trying to capture, it seemed impossible.  How could I possibly account for all the lessons, the shared laughter, the holidays, the tweezed splinters, the advice, the listening ear, the music, the celebration, the essence of his character, his goodness, his spirituality… How do you capture a lifetime of love in a poem only long enough for one intended song?

So, I waited.  On day one of my vacation, my friend, Lauren, and I pulled out of Chicago at 6am and drove 15 hours; nearly straight through to Wall, South Dakota.  The next morning we were up at 3am to catch the sunrise at Badlands National Park. We arrived to a bison still snuggled in its nighttime resting place, just five feet off the road, and at the first outlook we were greeted by a herd of wild goats grazing on the side of a mountain, about 100 feet from us.  Once the herd crossed the main entry road they were followed by a flock of wild turkeys.  We broke in our hiking shoes by traversing what we would later consider a very small hill, and gazing out over the plains and mountains as the sun burst forth.  We awed at the sunrise with our jaws and our cameras.

The great thing about being willing to get up before the crack of dawn was that there were very few humans around.  In fact, for two Chicagoans, we marveled that within our range of site we only saw one other human.  It was so serene!

As we continued our tour of the park, we would hop out of the car at each overlook to gaze out onto the vastness of mountain ranges, and endless sky.  As someone who spends nearly six hours outside each day, dog walking in Chicago, I can assure you, the only familiarity was the sunshine.

We pulled up to one outlook called, “Panorama Point.”  As I lingered at the top of the lookout with vast rocky cliffs to my right, and sharp, swift cliffs to my left, with a meadow of green rolling hills behind me, all of a sudden the words started to flow.  I knew my Father’s Day poem was being born.  Thankfully, there was still not another soul around but us, and my friend, Lauren, completely understood my need to stand there for a long while just racing down words and feeling that energetic connection to the very spirit of the land I was standing on.

To all of those who hold the title ‘father,’ with an irreplaceable love, and to Phil Walter, whom I’m blessed to call dad:

Panorama Point

He held her in his arms; the delicateness.  A reverence of life; connected.
Steep valleys of stone, plains of lush green, small birds against a vast sky.  Life will be the breeze for the landscape of what they’ll share.
From peanut butter sandwiches, to tied laces, fishing lures, sing-alongs, borrowed tools, and wind through the car windows. The sun always rises. 
The eternity of love that is wordless, and allows for tears and truth tells.
And as she overlooks the plains of wild grass and rigid rock, it’s a held understanding of the insight in the sight.  The cupped essence of life, and knowing.  They are linked beyond this land. 
Essence is only held captured in the love the heart beats forth; it’s a shaping of spirit, and a molding of its guide posts.  It’s transferable, and one of a kind.
As the solo bird sways to the wind’s rhythm, it is held only by its grace, wing span, memories, and perseverance.  Its dance with the plain spills shadow over the land; it’s marked.
There is permanence, a blend of sunbeam and charred ash that each soul boasts forth.  Its perfection is its imperfection; its attempt.
And as we age, we see each other true.  And his eyes are still as blue.  He’s grown.  I’ve grown.  We’ve transformed.  It’s elusive and yet, palpable.  Don’t define love.  Live it. Share it.

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