Yellow Stonecrop (Sedum lanceolatum), South Wallowas . . .
On the road in the Northwest of America.

The Bag of Gaming Chips

At birth, we are all given
a bag of gaming chips,
maybe a hundred or so.
Some are willing to risk
their whole bag simply to climb
a mountain, or write a symphony, or
find a cure for militarism.
Others, like mothers, give their bag wholly
to others without a second thought.
While still others hoard theirs, pinching
each chip until their last troubled
breath runs out.
This is so, I tell you, but
see all the people who would and do
steal others', steal our chips. Sometimes the
whole bag. Think of that! What shall we call this?
Evil? Cupidity? Greed?
Or perhaps those who steal chips
are simply somehow lost, like small children
who have been locked out of church or school.
But is a chip a minute, a second, or
a year? Who can say?
Does some essence of ourselves
in some future remanifest with
a new bag? Again, who can say definitively?
Evidently, at the door of death, no godlike Janus,
seeing both ways in time, past and future,
stands watch at the threshold.
That is the beauty of the bag.
All bets are off.
All bets—both the good & the bad—
are one's very own.

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South/North Sister—
first light
Black Butte
Ponderosa Pines— after burn Manzanita

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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2008
(created: VII.27.2008)