The Dove Brief Flight

The Dove’s Brief Flight

Daniel Rutberg

October 2013


I am weightless and floating

in the absence of light

I am mourning

the dove’s brief flight


How does one feel

when your first best friend dies

your blood brother

And broker of peace 


As children we saw rites and rituals 

dashed against the magnificent cliffs

of science as it emerged

in all its glorious forms

of practice and theory


We poured over magazines

predicting flying cars and

highways in the sky,

and carefully followed plans

to build miniature motors and circuit boards


We saw pictures of dinosaurs and modern tribes of people

who lived in huts, hunting with spears

then watched reports of Sputnik circling the globe


We drove go-carts, ride on mowers

Even slid our friends father’s sports car in a ditch

and learned that gravity always wins


I remember the talks we had as teens

while we walked along dusty roads

We shared philosophies and moments of teenage angst

and planned exotic travel and wild adventures 

and wouldn’t it be cool to ……

shared dreams on the way to Dairy Queen


When tragedy struck my family

he was the first at my side

a true friend

when my father died


As young men

we chose ethics over dogma

Inclusion over bigotry

peace over war

And for the comfort that the sharp edges

of science and engineering just couldn’t provide

we found music in one of its simplistic forms

studied the blues harp

an instrument he described

“as the sound closest to the human voice”




Our friendship changed over time

I moved away

he traveled the world

we both settled down

on different coasts



As adults we spoke by phone from time to time

but always picked up our conversations

where we had left them


Until I stood at his memorial

I never realized how much of me

still clung to our credo

was formed in those years of our friendship


His mother, brother, sisters, son and I

recite with the Rabbi

take turns with the shovel

teaspoons of earth and droplets of our tears

fall upon the box that holds his ashes


I return to his mothers side

where he would have stood

Her hand in mine


Without the shamans shield of tribe or clan

I am weightless and floating

in the absence of light

caught between creation

and the dove’s brief flight


I think of my friend


Always searching for peace within himself

Helping others to achieve the same

forgiving and generous to a fault

finding solace in the wail of a blues harp

and the friendships he made along the way



His legacy is etched deep in my soul

and the souls

of those who knew him and loved him.


Live Each New Year, A Day At A Time – July 6, 1996

At one, you were having so much fun,
your laugh so loud it always pleased the crowds,
your mother, your brother and me.

At two and three you found out you had knee’s
you’d never walked when you could run,
sometimes when you were having fun,
you’d stumble and your mom would,
hold you, kiss you, scold you and patch you up again.

At four and five you discovered the outside, the fields, the jungle gym and trees
you’d run and laugh and climb above the clouds
and when you found your spot
you’d hang upside down and see what you could see.

At six and seven you thought you were in heaven
with kids at school to fool with
bucks up, kickball and hide and seek
everyday, every week.
At home you had a new friend,
who you could bark with and chase around
and hug and hold forever

At eight and nine it was wheels you found this time
bikes, skateboards, rollerblades and such
if it had wheels, you were in luck
and sometimes when you were having fun,
you’d stumble and your mom would,
hold you, kiss you, scold you and patch you up again,
with some help from the doctors at ER.

At ten and eleven it was basketball, baseball, soccer and football.
It was fast breaks, great catches, awesome defense and studying plays.
It was late night reports with dad and studying with mom, it was a new school and new friends.

At twelve you reached the sky, and saw America’s other side,
redwoods taller than tall itself, Alcatraz and Fisherman’s wharf,
and new walls with fingers and toes to climb,
and now instead of Batman figures and little cars and trucks,
it was pocket knives and climbing gear you desired.

At thirteen the world lies at your feet
new conquests for you to meet
you are a kind and fine young man
all that you seek you will find
if you live each year a day at a time

The Terrible Teens – September 1996

Those years I lived from inside out
spent trembling in the winter’s sun
seem distant now

I hardly can recall,
the race of my young heart
the terror of being unlike the rest
the rage of youth as we’d stampede
then settle down to homework’s tasks

In our innocence we believed
our generation was different from the rest
and for a brief moment in time
we made “peace on earth”
and felt one with humanity
inside the safety of our parents nest

As time passed
we left to roam the country side
running from or searching for ourselves
while our brothers and our neighbors sons
roamed the jungles
sworn to protect a sacred trust
“God and Country”
I remember when
those words were a just call to arms

Both armies, those in jungle boots,
and those barefoot in bellbottom jeans
took casualties
from friendly fire and their enemies
some crashed and burned
some wear the scars today
those terrible times, those terrible years

And now well past
the age as teens, we swore we’d never trust
I live this life from the outside in
and watch my two sons grow

I try, to filter out
those times of tumult we lived through
so I can clearly see
the race of their young hearts
the terror of being unlike the rest
the rage of youth as they stampede
then settle down to homework’s tasks
inside the safety of their parent’s nest

Unexpected Day Off In The Country – December 1990

My workday problems seem remote.
As the snow falls outside my window,
Tea too hot to drink, grows cold, untouched
as the last page of my book is turned.

The quietness of this snowy day,
stolen from a hectic week,
is shattered periodically,
by the shrieks, shouts and bangs
from far off rooms.

These sounds, like first tremors of an impending quake,
culminate in the appearance of my two young boys.
with tear stained eyes and unwiped noses,
they stand and plead their case.

With the foolishness of Solomon,
and the wisdom of Lewis Carol.
I meet out justice from my easy chair.
Distraction more than penance the effective tool,

We feast on peanuts,
Nuts fetched by the elder child.
Bowl brought by the younger.
We shuck and toss the shells into the bowl
with varying degrees of success.

With full bellies and giggles from my hugs and kisses,
They run drop and slide on the polished wood floors,
back to the den to resume the building of their castle,
made from couch pillows, chairs and blankets.

Dispute forgotten, their laughter in the background
like the sound of a waterfall
I sip some cool tea and close my eyes.
My wife arises, sleepy eyed from a nap on the couch,
to see our youngest appear from behind the bathroom door.
With pants around ankles and a wide grin he hops into the room.
And proudly shouts, “I missed”
As the Sun sets, I bid my chair and lazy day adieu and say,
“No, honey, I’ll get it.

Narrator of Your Story

Act One of an unfinished play
Scenes 1-18
A play for the clan Mackay/Rutberg

The play begins and ends on a bare stage.  A middle-aged man enters and stands in front of a curtain.

“With an intense love for each other and our clans past, present and future
and with great fear and trepidation your mother and I conceived a baby boy so beautiful that we were awestruck in wonder and delight. “

And from your birth you taught us anew to love life, and also what your likes were, with smiles, laughter, moans and groans and we two kids ourselves, were captured by you whole.

Your care, welfare and feeding have filled our lives for so many years I can’t quite recollect the years before you. The monitoring of your progress, height, weight and such, and academic prowess and victories on the field have exceeded all our expectations and fulfilled none of our fears.

And the questions about character that all papa’s ask. “Is he a man of principal’s or a member of the pack? Have been answered by your questions and the set of your jaw, the intelligent probing when you look at the world and find a flaw.

But the story is not over, though our narration may get thin, for the past eighteen scenes have been read aloud, reread, read between the lines. They have been performed before full houses of friends and family, grandma’s and grandpa’s and uncle al and our dear stell. They have been recounted so often that strangers think that we are reciting an epic poem or a classic tale.

And you the center of our drama in every act and scene must play a dual role now so that we may see how the tale progresses. So from this time forward perhaps on a Sunday night, walk to stage left or right and while the scene unfolds around you, give us the benefit of your insight. Take up the role of narrator, I gladly yield to you, so that we may see the day to day disasters and may savor your success.

We are your greatest fans and admirers. We love you so. We see you as strong and capable but always know; that we are here for you. You are a part of us, of our history and our future. Even though, you may feel alone on stage, we are with you in the wings and in the aisles and seats. We are close enough to prompt a line or help you recover from a missed cue.

So, with our love and as our hearts beat fast before the curtain rises again we say,
“Break a leg” and let the show begin.

Stopped Turning

Tonight the world stopped turning

Like the gears of a clock tower

Stuck with a shudder

And for that moment

I was dancing again with My dear Aunt Stella,

whirling in the air with the music playing loud

and we were laughing in her home

not far from the Ocean where we played in the sand…

Tonight the world stopped turning

and the low, husky voice of my Uncle Al

Three thousand miles away

but clear as a bell

was whispering in my ear

Checking on each member

of our common clan

his pride in his family,

my sons and me

His pride in me

and as he would love to say

“and how’s your lovely bride?”

Tonight the world stopped turning again

I felt the floor give way

as I listened to my sisters voice

three thousand miles away

Tell me the story

of my second father’s passing

My heart stopped

Like the gears of a clock tower

And I shuddered.

Goodnight Uncle Al

we love you!

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