Editor's Note: Mick McKellar, Copper Country poet, sent the following poem, with prose introduction, on his 73rd day at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he is recuperating from a stem-cell transplant for cancer. It is reprinted here with his permission.
I was just sitting on a stone pillar, atop Brockway Mountain (near Copper Harbor, MI) on a warm September day, with my camera set and ready to capture fall colors from the forest panorama -- much of it framed by the deep blue of Lake Superior. An artist's sky swung overhead -- brilliant blue with plenty of fluffy, puffy, white clouds moving rather rapidly before the wind. The sun was high, causing the clouds to cast shadows on the forest and on the surface of the big lake, shadows that chased each other through the valley and hills below.
I remember the incredible speed of the shadows, which seemed to change pace as they crossed the rugged terrain. Despite the chase, no two shadows connected. They just followed each other out of sight over the next ridge. Sometimes, it feels to me that I am chasing along behind one shadow and leading another, racing over rough terrain or blue water, and never quite connecting with any fellow shadows... leaving no trace of my passage...
In open field, I sat upon a stone,
As scudding clouds drew shadow puddles, fast
Approaching where I chewed my thoughts alone,
I wondered if I'd feel them when they passed.
Touched cooler, yes, than full sun on my skin,
The shadow puddles played upon the field,
And rushed upon the wind, they raced their kin,
Though none could gain advantage, none would yield.
This playful trifle I might have ignored,
Yet, odd, there on my stone that I should find,
The passing puddles touched a deeper chord,
Played deep within the music in my mind --
A song whose message I could not rescind:
We're shadow puddles driven on the wind.
(Read more from Mick on his blog, Out of My Mind.)