The platypus looks like a joke.
Though he’s covered with fur,
His mouth is like a duck’s bill,
And his front feet are webbed.
His tail is flat like a beaver’s.
On his back foot he has a spike
That he uses to poison his enemies.
He loves to swim.
His mama lays eggs,
And when the babies hatch,
They lap milk that leaks through her skin
And pools on her belly.
Photo by Dr. Marcus Gossler
Rings for My Daughters
My first-born, my princess.
Don’t tell your sisters, but you have always been my favorite.
And because you are my favorite, I have a priceless gift for you.
When Dad told his family he wanted to marry me,
His mother and his two aunts each gave him a ring.
One held an emerald, and the others, multiple diamonds.
Dad couldn’t choose one to be my engagement ring;
Instead, he designed a setting with the emerald
Surrounded by ten diamonds.
No woman has ever had an engagement ring like this;
It’s unique in all the world, and now it’s yours.
My middle child, my sunshine.
Don’t tell your sisters, but I’ve always loved you best.
And because I love you best, I have a priceless gift for you.
You know your grandmother called you Precious
Because that’s what you were to her.
When I was a teenager, my mother gave me an aquamarine ring
That she brought with her from Germany
When she and Opa emigrated to the United States.
Because she loved that ring, it was precious to me.
It just seems right that I give Oma’s ring to her precious granddaughter.
My baby, my cupcake.
Don’t tell your sisters, but you are the light of my life.
And because you are my light, I have a priceless gift for you.
When I was in college, I fell in love with a saxophone player.
I thought we would get married.
He gave me an amethyst ring. I thought it was my engagement ring.
But then he changed. He became distant. He stopped telling me he loved me.
I changed. I didn’t like that college anymore and transferred
To one closer to home.
He missed me and wanted me back and wrote to tell me
He was coming to see me over spring break.
But by that time I’d met your Dad, and I knew he was The One.
I wrote the saxophone player to stay home.
I never wore the ring again. But now I’d like you to have it.
My childhood in a small town consisted
of playing outside and wandering around the neighborhood,
sometimes with friends and sometimes alone.
The town’s volunteer fire department and first aid squad
were summoned by siren.
My mother’s rule was:
when you hear the siren, come home so I know
you’re okay; then you can go out again.
My husband and I raised our children
in the city. They were not free to wander. Times had changed;
outside was not safe without adult supervision.
I rarely permitted them even to walk to school.
One summer the kids and I attended family church camp.
The children longed to wander in the woods.
I tried to keep my eyes on all of them, telling them
they had to stay within my vision. The elders advised,
“Let them go. They’re safe here.”
Releasing them to wander was one of the hardest things I’d ever done,
but it was the first time they experienced the freedom that
characterized my own childhood. As I walked in the forest,
I stumbled upon my own kids scrambling over boulders or
hanging from high tree branches. I experienced paradoxical
emotions of joy and panic at not being in control.
Back home we reverted to the usual rules. Better safe than sorry.
Now retired, my children grown, I often wander alone
through vast desert mountain parks. Though many others hike the trails,
they are only within my sight momentarily;
they walk so much faster than I, and the rises and dips and
the vegetation hide them from view.
My husband and my children express concern
over my solitude in the wilderness, and of course,
their point is valid; but I feel safe and content as
Why Dogs are Better than Cats
Dogs are happy to see you when you get home.
Dogs can play fetch with you.
Dogs can watch TV with you.
You can drop food you don’t like on the floor
and your dog will eat the evidence.
Dogs will protect you from intruders.
You can take a dog for a walk.
Dogs wag their tails.
Dogs can do tricks.
Dogs are so cute.
When his grasp on her hand dragged on like a fermata,
She wrenched it free.
He kept bringing up the same objections,
An obligato argument.
Lately, every moment they spent together
Was marked by dissonance.
Their conversation limited to a pentatonic range of options,
Their words spoken pizzicato,
With an accelerando crescendoing to a fortissimo,
The neighbors wondering if they should call in a domestic disturbance.
Then an intermezzo when they spoke civilly to each other,
Their alternating leitmotifs reminding them of the way they used to be.
Once again their rondo began, always coming back to the same theme.
Could they admit their relationship was little more than a scherzo?
It was time to declare it fine.
I know the secret of joy
And I want to give it to you.
I challenge you to give it to
As many people as you can.
The secret of joy is gratitude.
Thank God for everything.
For the pebble in your shoe.
For rush hour traffic.
For the thirty-ninth rainy day in a row.
For your favorite show pre-empted by breaking news.
The miracle is,
When you thank God for everything,
He will give you more to be grateful for.
He will give you new perspective.
Frustration and disappointment melt away
Making room for immeasurable joy.
No, happiness is fickle.
Happiness can disappear in an instant.
But joy transforms.
Joy changes your world and your outlook.
Joy makes all things fresh and new and remarkable.
Don’t believe me?
Prove me wrong.
Buy a notebook.
Everyday, write down something to thank God for.
It doesn’t matter if it’s mundane,
Like finding a stamp so you can mail a birthday card.
Before long you’ll be noticing more and more gifts from God to you.
Little tokens of His love.
Little expressions of your uniqueness and your specialness to Him.
I know the secret of joy
And I’m giving it to you.
Give it to as many people as you can.