Earth packed hard from many feet;
Shoes and hooves and padded paws.
A leaning bench to mark the spot.
A trail of boardwalks, falcons, and cranes,
And muddy pits with side-stepping crabs
Catching the ocean’s spill.
And gazing points on brackish fields.
A secret tree with windswept bend;
Tell no one of the warblers.
The trail opens its hand and waves me in,
But stepping back, I turn away.
Glimpse its shoulder
And wave to its back.
Feel its admonishment.
Gravel crunches beneath my soles,
In solitude so loud.
I count the steps.
A hefty gate left open wide.
Bluing steel; fresh flaking paint.
A different trail pitted by rain
And seeded by grass.
Foggy fingers draw me in,
Then fold across a pond.
Birds achirp in still-dark trees
Guarding the water’s slumber.
Coots adrift in steaming fog,
Still until once noticed.
A broad-armed oak pushing back dawn.
Hazy shafts pierce open palms,
Spreading the morning light.
An otter slips past along the shore,
Black and gliding through golden reeds,
Leaving behind a rippled V.
A rusting fence peers through the brush.
It frowns and squints through filmy eyes,
Then squiggles beneath its blanket of leaves.
It seems familiar.
A branching path and warbler’s song;
Chained gate and windswept tree.
A remembered figure on opposite side,
Tugging the lock;
Hoping today the chain might fall;
The world expand.
Two hundred steps on dusty road,
Then miles of grassy trail.
The world in wait
Was already here.
Poem by Carol Fullerton-Samsel
Photo by stevepb of Pixabay