Unwrapping the Message

The message you failed
was schoolyard normal,
your sense of self
pulled down to the pavement,
ground like chalk.
You recover, create someone
who faces the world
in a way you admire
yet even if you fool the world
you know who’s behind the mask.
Some appear not afflicted,
others cured more easily,
but there in the dark
no amount of make-up
can hide the broken visage.
This is what the world says
on the tape inside your head.
There’s another message
the earth holds for you
when you’re ready to unwrap it.
It tells you of a kit fox,
a yearling deer, an old stag elk,
a river falling white and cold
and in her wholeness
a place for you, unadorned,
edges fading into tree bark,
rising mist your companion.
She’s known all this time
you weren’t broken after all.



photograph by Eilish Hynes


20 Responses to “Unwrapping the Message”

  1. Eric says:


  2. Patrick says:

    When the facades shatter grief expresses itself and heals

  3. T Johansson says:

    BRILLIANT! A poem like this doesn’t come from “broken.” It emerges from our eternal, God-given wholeness finally reasserting itself. May we all find the thin path that leads us there…

  4. Bob says:

    Past and present characterize your present.
    Your sees the harsh now
    Decisions cast to endure

  5. David Kyle says:

    Seeing the baby in Eilish’s lap is beautiful, heart rendering and hopeful just as your poem brings us back into the “Garden of Eden” of our own heart/mind/soul. Thank you once again for mining the depth of our hearts – both you and Eilish.

  6. Stan Grindstaff says:

    Inspired & inspiring… !

  7. Maria Frid Jimenez says:

    My oh my, you captured the back and forth of the mind that is not secure. Like always, thank you! And once we know this game, we may say, oh yes, I am whole along with the elk, the deer, the river white.

  8. The world’s message is always harsh and unrelenting…yet the truth of who you are is immortal and perfect…

  9. Pichay says:

    Though I don’t hunt anymore, I treasure the gift of stealth it taught me as to how to be in forest community. Your mention of members carries my attention to reverent silence.

  10. thomas mcdermott says:

    Really liked this Don, tying the personal internal experience, often playing very old tapes, with the grounding and healing effect of nature which whispers that all is well and as it should be. Thanks for a moment of deeper thought.

  11. Rose Meeker says:

    So deeply true!

  12. Marco says:

    I was reminded of a scene from the movie/documentary “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond”, where Jim Carrey suggests that almost everyone is gripped with the existential terror that all can see the fraud they feel themselves to be. And how all manner of strategies are then concocted to appear different, and throw them all off the scent. But your poem speaks to a different strategy and outcome – the deliberate allowing for the dissolution of the ego … facing/embracing the terror to discover one was always some other, faceless, whole presence.

  13. Lon says:

    the messages are new
    with every new unwrapping

  14. lawrence kiser says:

    This points to the primal fear of not being good enough, smart enough or just plain “enough”. A universal fear within that when examined is not truth. Thanks for pointing to the other side.

  15. Maggie Causey says:

    So exquisitely expressed, Don. And just what I needed to hear today. Thank you, sweet friend.

  16. Veronica Lim says:


  17. gus duffy says:

    mother nature bats last

  18. David Barnes says:

    Don, what a gift this poem is – as are all your poems – and now I know the Gift unwrapped. Thank you. db

  19. Anne Blaney says:

    Coming in late on this one, and see the word “unadorned” in the process of birthing your next poem! The unadorned state is worthy of meditation indeed! I think of the life essences surrounding, adorning the baby. In the end, one way or another, we shed the outer clothing of this world (some projected, laid on and then adopted as self), and wear again the adornment of true living, loving living, physical living. But this comment properly belongs with your next poem…oh well, it’s one whole!

  20. Eilish says:

    Thank you for this beautiful poem dad💜

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