How to count the days of my trail?
How to number the steps of my trial?
How to see whether triumph or travail
awaits me at my journey’s end?
I keep time the old way
with the speeding race
of Apollo’s chariot across the sky
and fix my position by the passing
of Polaris and Orion’s belt.
I drink when I thirst,
I eat when I hunger,
I rest when weariness overcomes me.
I carry on until the muse who prods
my restless bones with the electric sting of wanderlust
tells me I have arrived; my journey
into the unknown is complete,
the flight of driven fancy fulfilled.
The forest grows scant as I climb upward
in my southerly quest,
the maple, oak, and ask replaced
by long needled firs
and fragrant wax-green leafed
Wild raspberry gives way to huckleberry,
and as the valley deepens,
or perhaps it is the trail that rises,
the mist is my one constant companion.
I hear the approach of thunder.
The wind becomes itself a foe to be conquered
its weapons the blinding wash of torrential rain,
searing flash of laser bolts,
the explosive roar thunder and wind,
and the gun-shot rattle of frozen bullets
that strip the skin from tree and bush
and creature foolish enough to stare
into its raging face.
I hide, shivering and shuddering
from the tempestuous tantrum
in the belly of a hollowed pine
whose towering height
and gluttonous girth
have somehow managed
to withstand the maelstrom
as if by some unknown bit
of natural wisdom carried
to its slender green-tipped fingers
whispers into the shadows,
this, too shall pass.