I set up my beloved theodolite
And slowly, gently, aimed it at the moon,
Then focused sharply on the lovely site,
Which put its fragile eye piece well in tune.

As always, it was truly great and thrilling;
It tends at first to take away one’s breath.
I’d even say that it was almost chilling,
Considering the expectation’s stress.

Now, I had seen this stunning show before
But this, my youngest son, had not and turned
From left foot to the right and then some more
As pure impatience in his body burned.

When I had managed the controls just right
I checked and, yes, the spectacle appeared:
The view revealed a giant disk of light—
Lit orb of heaven—by lovers oft revered.

The moon, as pretty as it mostly is
Just played the backdrop to the major show:
The shadowed passing of no ghostly frizz
But sharply-imaged birds’ migration flow.

Some came in groups, while others flew alone,
The larger birds with stately beating wings,
The little ones by jerks of effort blown
Then up, then down, in spurts they flew in strings.

I quickly spied my son; he was engrossed.
His faintest smile was for me quite sublime.
He was real still and though his eyes were closed—
I saw a tear… Evoked my own first time.



Leo Zoutewelle was born in 1935 in The Netherlands and was raised there until at age twenty he emigrated to the United States.  After retiring in 2012  he has written an autobiography and two novels (unpublished).

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9 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    This is a very nice piece, and how interesting to see the word “theodolite”! the unexpected appearance of the birds works perfectly to segue into the poem’s conclusion, which alludes to the moment of sympathy between father and son.

    • Peter Hartley

      Leo – A very enjoyable read and it stopped me being a miserable git for 5 minutes Thank you for that.

  2. Leo Zoutewelle

    Dear Fellow Society members,
    I am very grateful for all your comments, which help lift the spirit and often the quality of my poetic endeavors! And that, I think, is the wonderful thing about this, our Society, whose structure allows the most opportunity for exchange of ideas as well as some pleasant conviviality.

    May we continue to maintain and strengthen this facility for a long time.
    Thank you all for your contributions!

  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Leo, this poem is truly beautiful and the closing stanza brought a tear to my eye, too. Just lovely! Thank you.


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