woodswalking
by J.B. Mulligan

    Leaves of the previous autumn
    are mulch between the trees,
    the speckled skin of a leopard
    stretching up the hill
    to the charcoal rocks, slick
    and jumbled, and the setting sun.

    Beyond the rocks, I see
    an off-white building with a red roof
    and a sign
    too far away to read,
    and I know a road runs by it.

    The sound of my feet on leaves
    is not dissimilar to
    the distant crunch and hiss of traffic.

    Primitive men could sense
    a spirit under the land,
    could understand the speech
    of trees.  Something remains
    of that, despite the cities and cars,
    planes and factories,
    trains and tankers, satellites drifting
    like dandelion spores through space.

    Something rises within -
    a blade like a wing, a flame -
    a song in ancient tongue -
    high syllables of being
    to a wedge of molten sun,
    to rising of the land
    toward the blazing sky.

    I stumble, scattering leaves.
    An unseen car growls by.






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