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Once upon a long time ago
A lonely old man lived in joy and in peace
On top of a high mountain.
I tell you this his story
In that then
When his now became
The telling begins
Way before then,
When he had been young,
He and his bride had come there
And had started a life together
In a cabin made from logs
Felled from a stand of Aspen trees
Found growing near to by an icy brook
Born from melting snows high upon the peak.
Ah, but she died there
The first winter
Before she could bear him
A strong son or a darling daughter.
He buried her
Beside a tall and beautiful Balsam Fir tree,
As a way to ease his sorrow
He cut down a whole stand of the fir trees
That grew near their cabin
And with these logs built
At the edge of the clearing
A little chapel there
With a steeple and cross
And even a bronze bell to ring
On her birthday
And also on that of their wedding
Lest he ever forget the look of her smile
And feel of her kiss
And the hope she had brought to his life
From that day they first met
Until that night she left him to join the stars
That light up the night with mystery and wonder
And music only the heart can hear
Through the special hearing of the eyes.
Oh, my love, why did God give me you so short a time?
I shall build this church here
That some day I may understand
What living and loving and dying are all about
I just do not know at all.
Enough years went by
For him to find a family
In all the creatures living with him
On that mountain side the seasons round.
And loving them so,
He could not kill a one of them
For food or hide
But chose to eat nuts and berries and those roots
Which would grow again with every next rain.
Here and there
Caught on dry branches of bushes
He would find and collect tufts of animal fluff.
Mostly of foxes,
These finds were soft and promising.
He learned how to card and spin
And weave this undercoat of foxes
Into warm woolen garments
Without seams or buttons.
When walking through the woods
Clothed in ruddy fox down
He seemed truly to be a noble man,
The very leading edge of natural evolution.
Wise and loving lord of all creation,
Brother, servant, companion, caregiver, living saint,
Like Francis of Assisi
He could understand the talk of animals
And could call to his open palm --
Birds from the trees and bears from their dens
To share in his breakfast of seed.
He grew old without aging
And slept only a little at the noon time.
Being awake to both day and night
The clear revelations given by sun, moon, and stars.
What wonders he saw by their light!
And then one crack of a solstice day
While he stood on top of his world,
The sun rose
Before the female moon had fled behind the western peaks,
No clouds in all the heavens between.
Suddenly the sun
Sent a great flare of fire
Arcing across the brightening sky!
He watched it penetrate the soft womb of the moon
And made it quiver
As if from delight.
He stared at this so beautiful queen of the night
For a timeless time
And then saw
What he thought to be a meteor
Streak away from that maternal place straight toward earth.
It struck the mountain
Before his very feet
And knocked him flat and out for the count of nine.
When he got up,
He found a glowing baby boy lying in a little crater,
Crying and waving his arms about
As if he was reaching for the sky.
Oh, my God, what is happening here?
Cried out the man totally amazed.
Seeing life return each spring,
He knew miracles all right,
But here a child had been given him
From out the very sky
Granting him his only remaining wish
A heartfelt wish that had lived unspoken
Deep within these many years since his bride had died.
He had wished but never hoped
To have a son.
He could not leave this mountain, he knew,
And what woman would live his hermit life.
He bent over
And gently picked up
And looking him in the eyes said softly,
I shall be your dad, and you shall be my son.
I name you Altair.
Paul Clement Czaja