Sunday, August 14, 2016

an old way draws me

again, the old way draws me,

I park at Indian Gap
where the ancient native way crosses these mountains,

I’ll bet native peoples first crossed here
when ice ruled the north,
when it was too cold for trees at the gap,

the trail goes where the land allows it,
for 100 yards mostly down the stream bed itself,

where it contours I can imagine how it looked millennia ago,

where it plunges down the slope,
it is often deep, a gouge
from thousands of years of erosion,

near the top the first flowing water
whispers to me of a camp here,
sheltered by the steep slopes around,
near the top, with plenty of water,

an hour down the mountain
those first peoples brought the trail
hard against a glorious waterfall and pool,
when I dip there

I imagine Cherokee plunging into the high cold water,
and many even earlier peoples here, too,

old ways draw me,
particularly where humans fit themselves 
into what nature gives,
I love the art of how a trail, a way,
can fuse function and aesthetics,

I love the pink turtle head huddled against the stream

and one high clump of jewel weed.

by Henry H. Walker
August 13, ’16

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