Spread Your Tiny Wings and Fly Away

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

My friend is missing.

As in there are search parties looking for him, with dogs and helicopters.

You may have heard about it already, since his friends and family have been working hard to spread the news. The object of the publicity is to keep the Japanese government searching, something they planned to suspend after three days. Yes, he’s on a volcanic island, Kuchino-erabu-shima, in Japan. He’s been visiting volcanoes and writing poetry about them — what can I say? That’s part of what makes him an interesting guy.

His last Facebook post was on Sunday, when he said “Craig Arnold is at long last leaving Princess-Mononoke-Land.” That status remains. I’m really hoping it won’t become an ironic elegy.

There’s a Facebook page for him: Find Craig Arnold.

On that group are people’s letter templates for writing to representatives. They call Craig a national treasure. Someone sure to become US Poet Laureate someday. All steps must be taken to find him because of his exceptional talents. They mention his Yale education, his poetry fellowship to Rome, his many awards.

All of this is true. And it’s great to use that kind of pressure, for political reasons.

But it should be enough that we want him found because he’s a wonderful friend to so many. One of those guys who manage to be vital, funny and sensitive. When he coordinated the visiting writers program at UW, he made sure to invite me, a local writer not affiliated with the MFA program. He invited me to lunches with authors he knew I’d like to meet. When I’d show up for readings, he’d flash me a smile. Craig had a knack for making people feel special, that he was genuinely delighted to see you. Every time.

In one of his last Facebook exchanges, one of Craig’s friends asked if they really had 111 friends in common. He responded, “the question is, can I really have 111 friends, period?”

Yes, Craig, you can. You have thousands wanting you to come home.

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