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Never Met a Stranger: Nearly 70

By T.W. Burger

Long ago, I figured I’d be dead by now.

Nearly was, a few times.

The woods are the same;

Different orders of trees,

Slight variations in the

Birds, bugs, flowers,

But nothing major.

Back then I went everywhere with nothing but a notebook, pen, and

One small dog named Rascal.

Today I have a serious camera,

But mostly I shoot from the car;

The knees are gone,

Rascal long dead.

I remember a Cooper’s Hawk

Sitting briefly next to me on a

Fallen tree, and

Lying beside a 300-pound

Sea turtle as she laid

More than 100 eggs above the

Tide line.

And the little dog tearing

Through the woods

In hot pursuit of deer,

Returning empty-jawed,


It is all to be celebrated,

Of course,

The pursued and the pursuer,

The seed and harvester,

The living and the dying

The light and the dark.

A whole day would pass

On the shores of a beaver pond,

In the thick, sharp-scented pines,

Serenaded by the rough humor of

Blue Jays.

Here in the northeast,

The Jays are fewer and have better diction.

Hawks no longer sit next to me,

I suppose because I have managed to lose both

Mobility and Stillness.


In good weather, I love to fall

Asleep under a tree

For the simple joy of

Waking to birdsong and

For the half-second of not

Remembering who I am

Or even that I am anyone;

Simply a set of senses

Making note.

T.W. Burger was raised in Athens. He graduated from Athens High School in 1967. He worked as a driver of everything from fork trucks to garbage trucks and concrete mixers, has been an apprentice mortician and ambulance attendant.

He has been a newspaper reporter since 1985, mostly in Gettysburg, PA, with various stints at other publications. Semi-retired, he is still working as a freelance writer and lives on the banks of Marsh Creek just outside of Gettysburg.

He is the author of "The Year of the Moon Goose" is currently writing “Never Met a Stranger.”

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