Archives for posts with tag: path
Cherry Hill Nature Preserve walking path

By Dwight Burdette (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Along a back road

He set off from the village
when the blossoms dropped
their petal tears
and the green buds bid
to escape from the branches.

While walking along a
back road,
he was stopped

First by an old woman
who bent over a stick.
The stick gave way on the path.
The old woman fell
and struck her knee on a stone.
She said there was no need to worry anyone.

He could not pause too long
and, as she had said, there was not much he could do.
Along the back road
he continued walking
under trees now shadowing
with their leaves
and he was stopped

By a young man with hard arms
who implored and
would not let go.
This circling did not hurt
until the man dropped his embrace
and dissolved into the darkened roadside.

The journeying man
could not pause too long. There
was not much he could do
along the back road.
He continued walking.

He continued walking
and after some time
in the summer sunshine
he took off his shoes
and drank at a waterspout.
He was stopped

by a sweet-talking salesman
in a clean shirt, buttoned down
with a solution.
This opportunity would surpass the roaming.
Here, if the journeying man would
step off the back road.

He put on his shoes, washed his face
at the waterspout. He should not pause
too long. There was not much he could do
on the back road if he should keep walking.

The trees were dropping their leaves
and mushrooms clustered at their roots.


Given the contemporary climate of gender pronoun fluidity, it occurs to me that this may be in an antiquated voice. I had in mind those old fairy tales (such as “The Tinderbox”) and in particular those where the traveller – often a soldier or humble village man – is confronted by three companions on the trail.

For interest, you could try changing the ‘he’ for ‘she’, or your choice of gender neutral pronoun.

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Zoological Illustrations Volume III Plate 120.jpg

Its last pulse was the echo
of an interior draught.
Some time ago the sluggish monopod
had taken its leave.
Beached on the concrete path
the brown shell has no way of putting itself
at safety.
The unseeing crunch
the barren passageways
underfoot.


The above poem is about an abandoned snail shell like the ones might find in a suburban garden. The poem uses a cryptic sequence to unveil a scene, which reminds me of 118A Creighton Avenue, a poem which dates from a few years back.

I’ll leave it up to you to transpose your own metaphorical loading onto the scene, i.e. if you wish to read something analogous and ‘deep’ into the sequence by all means. If not, that’s okay, too.

I’ve posted recently  about other garden creatures in “The Visit” (a short story) and “Do Not Slight the Earthworm” (another poem).

If you’ve enjoyed reading my poems, please have a look at my books available via Blurb:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

I also tweet my observations about the minutiae of life as @BeadedQuill.
And BeadedQuill is on Facebook.


Illustration courtesy of “Zoological Illustrations Volume III Plate 120” by William Swainson, F.R.S., F.L.S. – Zoological Illustrations, Volume III.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

"Jasminum officinale - Bot. Mag. 31, 1787" by Botanical Magazine - Botanical Magazine 31. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jasminum_officinale_-_Bot._Mag._31,_1787.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Jasminum_officinale_-_Bot._Mag._31,_1787.jpg

“Jasminum officinale in Botanical Magazine, 31, 1787. Licensed for use under public domain via
Wikimedia Commons

A short story from some time ago:

It is a long climb up the stony mountain, through biting mists and pounding midday sun. From the crevices mountain flowers cheer the weary and tumbling water droplets happily refresh those travellers who whisper of their thirst. The higher the climb, the more the climber’s bones and muscles groan and yet everything sings until the oxygen needed for breathing is taken up for singing.

Here stumbles another traveller, lightheaded with a promised view that is always but a few more steps. She stares ahead on the path, turns a bend and there before her looms a vast pair of doors across the path. They are heavy, imposing wooden doors with large hinges. The doors open. Since there is no other way around the path but to climb up the mountain, our traveller takes off her hat, wipes her arm across her face and wanders tentatively inside.

The darkness is cool. The air is freshened by a faint smell of jasmine. A warm light pulses at the end of the walk. A figure sits in the light-

Our traveller approaches.

“Good morning, but may I ask, What are you doing on my path?”
“On your path? Hmmmm,” pontificates the figure. “Am I on your path? Are you on my path? Are we perhaps just meeting?”
“Well,” puffs our traveller, “You look as though you have answers.”
“And why do you say that about me?”
“The doors, the light, the Hmmmm-ing”
“What are your questions for me?”

Our traveller scratches in her bag. She pulls out a dog-eared notebook and a red-and-black striped 2B pencil.
“So you are a list writer?”
“Aha,” she replies absentmindedly as she inscribes.
She finishes one page, then a second. She pauses to think, then scribbles out a third. She tears all three pages from the ring-binding. As she hands over the demands in a flourish and a triumphant “There,” the little tear tassels flutter in the jasmine air.

“Are you in a hurry?” asks the figure.
“Well, I want to see the view.”
“Hmmmmm.”

There is a pause that lengthens into awkward silence. Our traveller shifts her weight from right foot to left, left to right.
“Well, I hope you going to read my list of questions.”
The figure looks at each page very intently, very carefully. He squints, he stares.
“And?” asks our traveller.
He turns the pages upside down, vertical, horizontal. Our traveller begins to tap her impatient foot a little.
“And?”
The figure continues to scrutinize the pages, as if he is trying to see between the fibres.
“And?”

Finally the figure holds out the pages.
“What? You want me to take them back? But those are all my questions. About everything. I thought you had answers.”

Another of those pontification pauses.
The figure replied, “But where is the question for me?”

Our traveller turns over the pages before stuffing them into her bag. She turns to leave and try her luck climbing up the mountain. As she turns, she notices that the figure is no longer in the light but is standing next to her asking –

“What is your name? How are you? How can I help you?”

And the air was still fresh with the faint smell of jasmine and questions.

March 2007