My latest book, The Bonnie and Clyde Files: How Two Senior Dogs Saved a Middle Aged Man is out. I invite you to support me and an independent Oregon publisher by purchasing direct from my web site, nestuccaspitpress.com
Below is an excerpt:
Fifteen minutes later, I pulled the chair back another few feet. My hands burned. I sat down stinking of sweat and smoke. I ate the rest of my breakfast, drank water, and started another letter to the young poet. She would open the second envelope and whiff the burn pile again.
A wavy, blurry heat rose over the pile and I wondered what the word for that was.
Something moving near the fire riveted my eye.
I saw a red hummingbird darting around the edges of the fire, then hover above the coals. I’d never seen a hummingbird near a burn pile. I stood up and moved closer. I didn’t think about taking a photograph. I was really seeing. I walked into the fire and my shoes started smoking.
The hummingbird lifted off from the coals and flew into the flames; he bored through the waves. I saw a hummingbird fly through fire!
I walked out of the fire. This was no time for self-immolation. That time had passed.
The smoke snaked toward me. I brushed it away from my eyes. I looked for the hummingbird again. Nothing. The bird had vanished. I sat back down on the chair.
For so long I had been waiting to identify a survival metaphor and now one had magically appeared! I had sifted through many candidates, such as the clay court tennis specialist who could win from the baseline deep into the fifth set and outlast everyone with his fitness and patience, but I discarded it, along with the stranded seal pup, the boxer clinching for eternity, and the image of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, “I watched a snail cross the edge of a straight razor.”
Finally, here was my metaphor, invigorating with its beauty, poetry, originality and fierceness. It was certainly well beyond anything I could make up. It was real. I had just witnessed it and could barely believe my eyes.
The breeze shifted and twirled up some smoke, embers and ashes in my direction.
No… the hummingbird flying through fire was not my survival metaphor. I hadn’t flown through fire like a hummingbird. More like a blue heron. No, not even like that. I hadn’t flown at all. There was nothing in the hummingbird flying through fire that represented my recent life.
My survival metaphor didn’t exist. This wasn’t about a writer’s conceit and phony construction. I had survived because people had held out their hands to lift me up. I had survived because Bonnie and Clyde had held out their paws.