The Road In The Woods

The Road In The Woods

At a mountaintop crossroads, on a whim of
wild curiosity, a timber road seduces you.
Something beckons you to go ahead, leave the
well-traveled route to wander the unmapped
miles of laurel, tulip poplar, black oak, and red maple.

It’s a hook in the lobes, tangle in the spine, this
rugged confluence of mud, rock, and leaves
switchbacking a wilderness ridge.

February winds surge from the valleys, stirring
leaves like a witch’s stew. It shakes the hysterical
armies of bare trees and rattling branches,
clattering like skeletons riding a merry-go-round,
the wind a ghostly calliope wavering from shriek to
hoarse, like an antique music box choked on rust.

Later the sun punches out beyond
starships tucked behind tarnished clouds
and you’re alone finally, finally alone,except for
possums, skunks or crows, the woods
teeming with squirrels, tails switching
like duster plumes. A finger of smoke from a distant
farmhouse, fortresses of granite boulders big as elephants

There’s been others here: teenagers with
beer, tissues and condoms; woods-wandering
boys with pocketknives, compasses and sandwiches;
hunters in tree bark camo waiting to slay another deer.
The lovers who came and went, hikers with only a
bone to chew, and the wind, always the wind,
and a mysterious road–alluring, intriguing, magnetic,
No one around for miles, just you, just you and
your secrets, finding a way, moving forward.

~ Craig Shaffer |  February 13, 2011

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