When you come to the end of the path

When you come to the end of the path
it isn’t obvious.

There are openings under the trees
where small streams have carved what looks like

a way forward.

The forest floor is golden with fallen fir needles
and at first you think Ah yes! Here’s a trail

or at least a deer path to follow.

A half-hour later, maybe more, you find yourself
lost. The same heavy-boned trees all around

the same openings that lead nowhere.

The drip drip drip of drooping branches. Weird creaks
and groans, echoes without direction.

You lean against a slick black rock, slippery with mosses
clusters of emerald stars in no visible constellation.

You’re not afraid, exactly. After all, there are paths
through these woods. You’ve walked them before

on Sunday afternoons much like this one. You have
a nodding acquaintance with several spectacular ferns

and at least one flaming arbutus tree whose scarlet trunk
you pat fondly whenever you pass by.

Now, you sniff the air the way you’ve seen dogs do-
that keen alertness, that panting relationship with geography.

Maybe you’ll don a dogs intelligence when you assume
its stance — the hidden pattern of the woods revealed

in your canine nose.

The trees stand, inscrutable, silent. No sun-dappled path
appears magically before you, inviting your foot

to its ordained destination.

You’re hungry, now. You’re cold. The light
thins overhead.

You lean your heart into the slanting rain
and walk.


This poem is dedicated to my dear friends, Jen Louden and Mariko Gordon, and to my heart-sisters everywhere: powerful, creative, freedom-loving women who are shaping a world of kindness, courage and love for everyone.

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