Three days of hiking with only bottled water
is penance enough for one lifetime,
the path littered with opera and breath-beats,
the sarcasm of the bullfrog, the yelp of red fox.
Every night enough stars shoot across the sky
to grant every wish for a hundred years of wishing,
every aspiration, every melody, every quarter note.
Sweat streams puddle down the corridor of my back,
my ears open into mouths, my tongue catches sound on its tip.
Near the end of the trail, resting, every goodness within me,
within my back, my hands, my blistered feet, my muscles,
everything thyme, sage, peach water, an essence of Aradia.
In the end I did not enter the shiny box of darkness.
I dyed my hair instead, removed my teeth,
fell back in love.
That was what was written on the exit sign
at the beginning of the trail
leading back home.
Michael H. Brownstein (USA)