These cold hills stand unconcerned of what walks beneath them. Snow, that made it through the day’s rain, will be covered by night’s newest layer of white. But here today, the rain collects upon the trail.
Footprints lie scattered. There are recent ones, still adhering to the shape of a shoe and older ones losing the semblance of humanness. All show their course around the puddles, trying to find the driest method to continue.
And yes, there’s evidence of others who’ve abandoned finding the dry way. Perhaps, they see themselves as hearty, brave, or trust their shoes more than others, or just don’t care.
Tomorrow, when the snow sticks, quieting the rain, puddles will be replaced by a contour of white. The trail can still be seen and if you look closely, you will see other kinds of footprints, who share the path, either dry or wet.
And the cold hills still remain unconcerned, even though it’s they, who we all wish to see.
(Click on image to enlarge. Salmon River, near Mt. Hood. Jan. 2020)
The creek isn’t cruel by not knowing my name.
Even though, I have known its name all my life.
On walks, I still follow its voice, soothed by its flow.
I won’t ask it to know me.
I’m okay with being an eternal stranger to it.
The creek doesn’t need my name
For me to hear its voice
Even during the loneliest times
When snow blankets its banks
And trees block the wind from its surface.
There are times when I wish
I could mimic the creek
But I know its name, taught to me by these very words
Which curve around boulders and tree limbs
Written by the currents of my own heart
Running the brittle floor—upon leaves settled to soil.
With mild hands wandering—through air and pressed sunlight.
Becoming branches—breaching the film of moist sky.
Clinging to winter’s sun—lucent thoughts, fictile.
Moving with the wildness—of the warm, fragile body.
Its abstractions of molds—ravines, dips, and death.
Wet pine needles held in a beam of furtive light.
I sit with her
Placing her in memory
Giving thoughts strength, yet
In her silence, she frightens me.
I rely on others
Camping upon her shore
To soothe my worry.
And although I haven’t
Seen her rimmed with snow
Echoing the clearest of nights,
Pitted with raindrops
Upon her clear face,
Witnessed her held tight
By mist and clouds,
I know she has experienced this.
She reflects me
Placing me inside her memory
Giving strength to her beauty, yet
In my silence, I frighten her.
She relies on the stream
And springs to ease her.
And although she hasn’t seen
All who I love, have loved,
My stumbles and woes
On nights of anxiety,
My elations and successes,
The clatter of the city
Reverberates within me
She knows I have experienced this.
She’s a ghost. I know that. She brushes her fingers along my shoulders and I will look up to find her playing among the trees, pretending to be the wind. She’ll drop a pinecone or a small branch as a reminder. Then, off she goes to the deeper part of the forest where I can’t follow. She laughs. I can’t hear it, but I know she’s laughing.
This spirit of hers doesn’t frighten me. But there are times when the forest is as still as death. It’s upon these moments, in silent life, when I look behind me on the trail and shudder in my aloneness.
She returns, that’s what ghosts do, with her sound, a rustling, a stirring, a theme she buries deep inside me. Its tune reminds me that I’m also a ghost. At times, this makes me sad, to know I’m as invisible as her, but it’s her way of empowering me, to haunt. I can’t help but to be…a ghost.
I can tell you this one thing. It’s the only thing I really, really know. If you listen, you will also know you’re a ghost. Even when you’re in the middle of nowhere, look up, and see a jet leaving contrails high in the sky, above the wilderness, without making a sound.
You’ve had a few rain jackets.
Some of them have fallen apart, others weren’t a good fit from the get-go, a couple of them ran off with someone else.
Still, it’s hard to face the rain without one.
You’ve done that too, plenty of times.
It’s tough getting soaked.
Yet, at other times you’ve enjoyed letting the rain hit you smack-dab on the head while finding a new rain jacket.
Funny, aren’t you?
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