PORCH LIFE

The Porch Life:
Being Present for Eternity
One Morning at a Time

By Frank Rocco Satullo

 

I stepped foot onto the porch after the long hiatus.

And jumped back inside.

Too soon.

But the inviting yet deceitful morning sun whispered otherwise.

“Hi squirrel, where’s your nut?”

 

Weeks later, the temperature still said to stay inside,

but the rising sun was too inviting not to try.

The wind was sleeping, so in its stillness,

I lowered into my rocking chair, surprisingly comfortable
with a heavy flannel and coffee to warm me.

I watched the dewy split rail posts exhale,

As if breathing when their moisture met the sun’s rays.

It was Fool’s Spring,

The awakening was still weeks away.

 

Sinking back into the long-awaited chair on the porch,

my mind and body revived.

Spring tantalized every atom of my existence,

and all existence

absorbed into what must have been singularity.

 

The sun favored one cloud.

The cloud shone pink.

The others around it remained grayish-white.

I questioned how only one could catch the warmth.

Then, I stopped questioning and enjoyed it
for as long as it would last.

 

The dull grass brightened.

Baby squirrels played tag in the apple trees.

Boy, they could fly.
And Robins were frolicking on the ground.
Spring was in the air.

 

Green mist rose from the grass level to the bushes.

The painter always seemed to pause at this moment.

Then boom!

The color spread across the trees

remembering where every leaf goes.

Little leaves, flowers, birds, raccoons, and deer

experience the world for the first time.

As do I.

 

The leaves whisper, giving voice to the breeze.

A thousand hidden birds form a chorus in different languages celebrate first light.

Morning Hawk circles his menu indecisively.

 

Morning Dove slowly and deeply calls, “Hu hoooo—hoo hoo hoo.”

Another faintly answers from a far-off place.

They volley back and forth unhurriedly for as long as one wants to listen.

 

The sounds outside my head match the clattering inside it.

A woodpecker rata-tat-tats away.

A dog yelps up a storm.

An airplane engine showers over it all.

And a rooster (in suburbia!) cock-a-doodle-doos like there’s no tomorrow.

 

The sky turns moody—deep textures of dark and light drift.

The wind chimes ring out.

Is it approval or a warning?

 

Fog mystifies a tree line.

Swallowed.

And so goes the next layer of woods.

The cooling breeze wraps me in the mist.

Time stood still. The fog did not.

A gray-hued tree line was freed.

After that, a distant line of trees awoke.

Until all was clear, leaving just the foggy memory.

 

Squirrels hop with uncertainty, blinded by their teething apples.

A fox slinks quickly for cover in the distance.

The deer looks tense.

A hummingbird darts in and out of a flower.

The raccoon slumbers by a woodpile without a care.

 

Bambi is going it alone.

The wonder of the world in one eye.

Hesitancy in the other.

Somewhere, a snap.

Like a ballerina, Bambi sprang with grace to safety.

 

Mr. Hawk dive-bombs without warning.

Violence smacks the ground.

Wings flap to the sky.

A horrid squealing.

Then, nothing.

 

A father-time tree rustles its leaves rhythmically east, then west,

bending against the blue sky as if it were a school of fish in the ocean

darting to and fro on a dime with one mind.

 

Three airbrushed angels appeared out of the lightly sprayed clouds

in an otherwise sunny sky.

Slowly, they floated sideways and transformed into three birds.

The birds morphed into a phoenix.

Its wings filled the sky with powder white.

Then, twisted tight upward until it was lost in the sun.

 

A peculiarly large mass flapped overhead clumsily.

A pelican! Here?
The porch is always full of surprises.

 

Bumble Bee makes his rounds.

He switches shifts with the hummingbird.

The lavender smiles.

 

Out of a puff cloud grew a speckling of little black dots.

Some bobbed. Others rocked.

The size and numbers increased.

Until the blue sky was blocked by migration.

And just like that, it was empty again.

 

The cross breeze against the skin is rejuvenating.

The chimes enjoy it, too.

An orphaned band of clouds, like a lone mountain ridge appears
out yonder past the familiar three-tiered tree line.

It moved so leisurely; it didn’t seem to move at all.

 

But time and size said differently.

It was my sole focus for who knows how long.

The morning coffee tasted even better in the mountain air.

Zero interruption. A moment everlasting.

Until there was nothing to look at.

And everything returned to sight.

 

Glitter scattered across the sky.

Or so it seemed when a flock of birds’ white undersides

flickered in the sun with the flapping of their black wings.

 

My ears fill with static.

All the trees rustle at once as if alive and talking.

They chatter nonstop.

Then, in a deep breath, silence!
It was like one said, “Hush, what’s that?”

A moment later, the conversation continues.

 

That one tree is always in a hurry.

The others wait, green with envy.

The show-off bursts into bright yellow.

It’s quite a spectacle.

Two trees behind it eventually grow red, perhaps in envy.

Even in their fiery glory, they are one-upped,

Because they only provide highlights for the yellow one standing before them.

The three remain this way before fall spreads to the forest of green around them.

When it does, their early flair fades. And disappears.

And everyone else shines bright.

 

The lonely streetlamp is strangled by fog.

Tall tree shadows loom over it.

It feels like a mystery is about to unfold.

Or a crime.

I wait to see what comes out of the darkness.

Somewhere in the brightening gray rises the sun.

The mystery turns to promise, dreamy, and serene.

The still of it all hasn’t changed.
Just the light of night to the light of day.

 

Nature’s aviary loaded every tree with as many birds as leaves.

Their chatter was so loud that you couldn’t hear the passing cars.

Then, the air show took off! An airshow without air traffic control!

Clusters flew low, high, crisscrossed, opposite angles, near and far.

It was bizarre.

And just when it felt it would never end.

It did.

Leaving silence and emptiness in the aviary.

 

Hello there, Peek-A-Boo Fox.

He slinked around the corner of the split rail fence.
Our eyes met in stillness as he looked up at the porch.

Although she wore a beautiful coat,

I only saw a cartoonish villain with a trickster grin.

“Heeeey…”
She darted off.

Later, she moved in the shadows of the apple trees.
I shifted. She froze.
When she darted off again, I laughed.

 

When Ms. Possum was startled when I opened the door to the porch,

She stood, froze, and fell as if rigor mortis took instant hold.

I sipped my coffee while watching the dead ringer for roadkill in my grass.

The possum played possum so well that I thought it was dead.

I ducked inside to call for my wife to see our new lawn ornament.

But in that instant, Ms. Possum was nowhere to be found.

 

Oh, Shadow Tree. Everyone around you is so bright and easy to see.

But then I noticed you, the shadow tree.

Who is blocking your light? I cannot see.

Why can’t you shine like the other trees?

Watching you saddens me.

It makes no sense to see a shadow tree

amidst a tree line of look-at-me’s.

 

A raccoon waddles along the hillside.

The neighbor’s dog had been perched, waiting patiently

for his chum to appear.

He shouts his approving good mornings.

The raccoon is disinterested, as always.

The dog tells the whole neighborhood he wants this friend.

The raccoon is simply indifferent or deaf.

 

Out of nowhere, a well-racked buck ran to a stop in the middle of the yard,

sniffing to see what made the creaking sound.

It was me shifting in my rickety wooden rocking chair

to crane my neck for a better view of this mammoth wonder.

He sensed my presence but couldn’t place it.

Alertly, he slow-walked again.

Then, like blowing out a candle, he vanished.

 

Fall’s grand finale bursts like fireworks.

Vibrant color popped all around.

Yellow, orange, red, green, and brown.

The crispness crackled in the breeze.

 

Silently, a hot air balloon appeared from behind the corner of the house.

It floated lazily just over some low treetops.

It was so close I could have called a greeting to the balloonist but didn’t.

It breathed its hot air through the cool, lifting away.

Like a ship sailing off in the ocean, it eventually grew so tiny it faded away.

 

Ah, the delight of hoodie weather.

Just me and my coffee breathing into the crisp sunny morning air of fading fall.

 

Now, the windowpane separates me from my porch.

I open a book.

Snow falls.

The snap of the nearby fireplace lures me to winter hibernation.

 

By Frank Rocco Satullo