To The Right

In America, we drive on the right side of the road.  Also, people here generally walk on the right side of the sidewalk, busy hiking trails, even grocery store isles. When I walk along the trails around a nearby lake, I keep to the right side of the path.  If I have the trail to myself, I walk right down the middle as if I owned the place.

What is your neighborhood like during the pandemic? Where I am I have noticed giving another pedestrian 6 feet is seen as a courtesy; in the grocery store, offices, parks, etc., keeping your distance is a sign of good manners. It is awkward or rude if a person stands too close to another. Feathers get ruffled.

Earlier this year, before the snowpack in the mountains could build and the rains of the Northwest La Nina winter began, Padden Gorge Trail was dry and quiet. The creek was all but dried up. The cold air chased away many birds and I experienced the eerie sensation of standing in a silent forest.

To The Right
second draft

The woods are quiet today
I do not hear the rustle of a bird
no wind playing at the leaves
no foraging of a rodent
or the panting of a dog
Padden Creek is down to its
late summer trickle
Everything is off

My ears reach for the sound of people
at the lake trail on end with mine
I hear no one
I haven’t been sleeping lately
For a moment I am dream walking
zombified in this quiet wood
with no direction, no purpose
No others to use as a reference
or provide a sense of direction
No validation of movement
or placement

I walk down the canyon trail in silence.
surrounded by silence

Then–they find me
The crunching roar of off-road bike tires
approach me from behind
I move to the right
The joggers with focused steps
and controlled pants
I move to the right
Two dogs and two owners
come at me head-on
I move to the right
Facedown each time to make sure
my breath does not mix with theirs
Behind me I hear the steps of another walker
I move to the right
I’m a slow walker compared to others
I know this walker will pass me
I wait
no walker
Then turn to look
No one

There are two places on these trails
where the sound tricks the ear
My own steps sound like another
getting ready to pass
but it is just me
and my steps
echoing off the walls
of the thick forest

How nice of me to give the same
courtesy I give others
unknowingly
yet, still as sweet

A Noisey Padden Creek

Feature Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

Dream: The Petals

It all started with a bouquet of flowers.  Left on the circle table in the center of my new apartment positioned gracefully in a heavy crystal vase, a hand-me-down from my mother.  Multi-colored assorted.  They brightened the room and matched my shower curtain, and the bedspreads.

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The second Monday morning, in my new apartment, the petals had been arranged around the table to form a question.

“Why do you write?”

Was it the wind, blown in from an open window, did I walk in my sleep, pulled the petals off for entertainment, or perhaps a spirit was involved.  The bouquet, only 5 days old.  Petals fell silently overnight to form words.

An interpretation of my mood, a call, a moaning of my soul.  A topic I struggle with at times when it seems it does not matter if I write or not.

“Why?”

Why do I get up at 3 a.m. and search my ceiling for answers as I see the month’s events unfold?  Why do I turn a scene at the grocery store between a door beggar and a suburbanite into prose?  Why should I want to take a dream and give it chapters?

I see myself in my minds world sitting on a great rock, overlooking other magnificent mountain ranges of rock.  A traveler comes by with a question in a flower.  “Writer, why must you write?  Does the world need another book?”

No, it doesn’t.

“Stranger,” I tell the traveler, “here is something you must know.  An artist must do their art.  It is a gift from heaven, or nature if you an atheists.  A gift that must be obeyed.  For me, some poems are built others born.  But the “chaser”, the gift within the gift—the work MUST be shared.”

A cat howls at another in the distant bush, a Nighthawk announces to others:  it is here, it is here.

The end of my story.  Do flowers talk to us?  Can they see us struggle in the night with worry, and words?  Are they aware of the gifts from heaven and nature, and read us like tea leaves at the bottom of a blue kilned cup?  My ending has more questions.  Only because there is never an ending.

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