Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Out as an Elder in June

Athens, Georgia
June 2018

I like to take a neighborly hike 
in the guise of an old man 
grasping a crooked walking stick 
with just a hint of a gimpy hip.

I am out before the heat, 
huffing up sunlit hills, 
passed by young runners 
and mothers rolling strollers.

They nod in my general direction, 
smile past the half-seen elder.
We share the same street 
but live in different worlds.

I walk as much in memory 
as in the searing moment.
I slip through years, 
misplace whole decades.

I zig-zag through shadows 
and pause in a pool of shade. 
A warm breeze sifts the mimosa 
and I breathe its pink sweetness. 

I study the borders of ragged lawns 
telling sumac from senna,
cats-ear from dandelion, 
wild petunia from woodland phlox.

A low drone fills the distance. 
The sun is high on my back 
as I saunter home through the green 
aroma of fresh-mown grass.

On the other side of sunset, 
I watch a field full of fireflies 
tracing seductive J-shaped loops 
as signs of love in the failing light. 

In the spell of affection, I nudge 
a young copperhead with the tip 
of my stick. He coils, then flows 
off the asphalt into the night.

Walking stick