Friday, November 5, 2010

Trails


Trails
By David Roth
© 5th November, 2010

One step
two
three and more
each melding into the next.

Ancient canvas backpack
buckled to the rigid aluminum frame.
Compass on my wrist
Swiss knife on my leg
canteen clipped to the old
webbed belt
with the pressure clamp buckle
broad brimmed hat
to keep the sun from my eyes
and a six-foot length of
weeping green poplar
for a walking stick
as uncertain as its carrier.

Deer, perhaps,
or maybe elk or bear
but probably raccoon or chipmunk
blaze a path through virgin pine
and not quite ripe elderberry
laid out on a blanket of dried leaves
mouse droppings
and velvet green moss.

Boots laced above my ankle
eyes darting, nostrils flared
and wildly imaginative ears
search the forest around me
wondering if hunter or prey.

Stepping toe to heel
careful to shield
the sound of my passage
masking the unknown with
anxious awareness
of the invisible world
hidden in the brush.

Things that growl.
Things that creep.
Things that slither.

Tip-toeing headlong
into a foreign universe
where one poorly placed step
could land a thousand feet below
I am without hope or understanding
but that the trails
wherever they may lead
 beckon.

Bearing the accumulated detritus
 of my life
in a canvas bag on my back
I
must
follow.

I
have
no
choice.
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