hint at what lies ahead
the clear sky warming towards
magenta as the sun dips
behind the ridge on the far side
of the sleepy, deep valley.
Beneath the first twinkle of starlight
I stretch my bed between
two low hanging oaken cloak hooks
high enough above the tiny clearing
to look down on any midnight passers by
but low enough that should nature call
in the inky darkness, and I forget
where I am, the fall won’t do permanent damage.
I drift into the sky-borne oceans
of Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, and the Jolly Roger
as they set sail
second star to the right
and straight on to morning,
as the soothing song of the whippoorwill
night owl and mountain cricket
blend in harmonious symphony
I catch a different sound in the ghostly wind,
as the distant drums of Chippewa, Cherokee, and Choctaw
fill my restless dreams.
I wonder if the path before me
steals through stealthy lanes
silently trod by feather clad Iroquois
in midday hunting raids
or Algonquin in search
of white man’s scalp.
Would my careful steps
further bury the ancient remains of
a shattered flint arrowhead
or the elk horn handle
of an knife that once skinned
hare, deer or black bear.
Did the small clearing
beneath my canvas loft
once breath with the regal discourse
of tribal elders as they sat around a fire
turning meat on a spit
and passing the still smoldering pipe.
Are the tell-tale signs I think I see
in the broken twigs and pressed moss
signs of night visitors
or simply the improvisations
of an overly active imagination?
My bag repacked,
breakfast of deer jerked some season passed
boiled chicory root for drink
and my canteen refilled
from a nearby weeping rock formation
the time has come to leave this place
of brief but solemn respite
and continue the endless journey
to that place