Monday Morning Mystery
My Column: Hummingbird How-To

A Poem in Memory of Stiles Thomas

Pat Price (a.k.a. Patty Creighton when she grew up in Allendale) sent me the following poem in 2016. I was supposed to help her get it published, but I dropped the football when I failed to find an illustrator.
In the past year, Peter Freeman, the insurance agent who bought Stiles’ old building in downtown Allendale, gave me this painting of Stiles by George Takayama, and it just made sense to post the two together today, on the first anniversary of Stiles’ death. He was 99.

The Marsh Warden
 A poem By Patricia Price

Daybreak signals his arrival.
Night lifts her witchy skirts and runs off blushing pink across the sky.
A breeze picks up the rumor and sends it to the elms
Whose leaves rustle the good news to nature’s most vulnerable.
Night and her death dance have vanished.

Birds chatter.
Geese trumpet a call.
Downtrodden underbrush bends low an ear to the ground
Listening for a distinctive footstep.

And in the center of it all, a pond languishes, arms out-stretched,
floating on a dream of long ago.

Then a burst of wing
And when the air settles, he stands there before them.
A man as old as Moses.
With a white feathered crown, on two long denim legs,
The Marsh Warden slowly picks his way along the path to the Warden’s Watch.
He knows a thing or two of flying. His bones are hollowed out.

Vines reach out to greet him.
Burrs cling to his ankles.
Mud sucks at the soles of his shoes.
A soiled and heavily mended jacket attests to years of wear and tear
of their mutual attachment.

Slowly now in advancing age their faithful guardian climbs the stairs
One by one
To reach the platform where he steadies himself a bit
Before raising his binoculars to his one and only true mistress – morning.


Pat Price also wrote  this prose poem about a marsh at dusk. I think it features Stiles as well:

And she wrote ‘The Snapping Turtle.” You can read it here:

I love the way she writes.