December 2008 Archives

Walking the Ridge at Dusk

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Walking the Ridge at Dusk

Barely two hundred yards from our back gate,

maybe a hundred from the footbridge across the creek,

the land begins to rise.

Not much further on, the trail forks.

To the right, a lumber road climbs

slowly, steadily with few bends

to Mt. Orient,

hardly a mountain really

but a good reliable destination

to hike to with friends

thirty-five minutes

above the treetops.

But to the left

after a brief, steep scramble

another path meanders

along a narrow ridge of land

winding among the trees

(as my fingers long to wander

over your face).

I imagine it as my own personal path,

one that much fewer choose than the other one.

I love best to walk this way at dusk,

just as the day's light is failing.

The dogs run recklessly through the trees

as if to say "at last you've let us out

for one great burst of energy

before we become quiet

and peaceful through the evening

and night."

Sun's rays splash gold

across the treetops.

Clouds suddenly become fiery

over my left shoulder

back towards town,

and also over my right shoulder

towards Quabbin water and

countless abandoned farms

returned to trees.

The wilderness stretches on mile after mile to the north

all the way to Monadnock's rocky summit

treeless, burned off by those

who still farmed its slopes long ago -

to drive away the wolves.  

Emma pants, struggling to keep up

with Nikko, who hurtles silently

like a panther

dodging trunks, skimming over the earth,

showing off, passionate, exulting

in his freedom to run.

I walk in quiet.

Nikko's running makes my heart sing.

Even when I was young I did not

run so much, with my legs or loins,

even less now.

But I have run with my heart and mind,

creating sit-ins against war,

leading gatherings to celebrate and explore

God's secret voice,

writing a few fiery poems and essays.

Mainly, perhaps, I have stood and spoken

my voice shaking with love

while others sit silently about me

with heads bowed.

I know my way of living, my self-styled passions

have often caused you pain, my heart.

You experienced them as thoughtless, even cruel.

I have tried to learn decorum, patience, tact.

You have been a good tutor, I a poor pupil.

I will keep practicing

unobtrusiveness and subtlety,

continue to try and learn from you.

But I am not done running yet.

Nikko bounding leashless reminds me of that.

I walk slowly, joyfully,

feel a breeze on my cheek,

gaze up at the hem-stitched needles

spread out delicately overhead,

dark bark and rustling oak leaves beside me,

moss and roots underfoot.

And my heart sings on.

I call the dogs by name

and turn back.

Am I really only half a mile

from curbs and streetlamps?

Thank you, love, for gifting me

this simple wood-walk

that I dreamed about, imperfectly

for so very many years.

       - Peter Blood, Amherst, Christmas 2008