Cascading down from the sky to where
The Blue Ridge fades tofoothills,
Where the scent of the Shenandoah,
Still discernible, lingers.Where a look
At the sky blends forest green and crystal blue,
And thesetting sun yields commanding power.
Where moss-strewn rocks govern thefloor,
And every sound brings memories.
Where as a child, young andeasy, I wandered.
Through the decaying leaves more beautiful than
Theliving overhead. Over gorges carved by
Timeless raindrops from a timeless sky,and
Amongst life powerful, prevalent, promising.
In its unravishedquietness, its unknown beauty
Its untouched stillness. Where the chirpingcricket
Is heard over the falling maple, and the din of
The nearest city isone-hundred miles away.
Where a child might get lost.
I remember,young and easy, this wood.
Alone and untouched,
Alone and unknown. And yetknowing
That my presence made a difference
I strolled, an army of one,against a world enticing,
To a solitary stone, on a solitary hill, under asolitary sun.
And from this perch I gazed upward, through
The trees, pastthe hill, past the sun
To infinity, and then beyond.
Beyond what weknow and are afraid to say,
Beyond reason, genuine and jest.
Stranded on alone peak, but never lost.
Asking questions of the past, of the sky and
Ofthe future, knowing that when the answers
Come they can't be understood. Notquite
Lost, but never found. Not quite calm,
But never mad. Not quite rash,not quite shrill
Yet always, always alive.
As I grew along with time sodid my stone,
Yet I returned each year to find it smaller,
Like the oceanof time, forever expanding and
Contracting and coming to rest in a momentthat
Vanishes with the falling tide; such was
My stone. And the carpet oftrees
Overhead, a constantly retreating bird,
Skipping on the sand, afraidto get its feet wet,
Yet singing ever, evermore.
While perched onesunny afternoon my stone began
To sway, and though I leaped it toppled androlled.
Harmonically I did the same, and lay on my back with
My hair in theleaves, looking up at the trees now fled
Farther, creating a gap unspannableby any bridge,
Unfixable by any man, incomprehensible tome.
Incomprehensible in its void and calling out for me to fill it.
Yetunreachable it remains, forever expanding,
And Ilay, with the sun in my face, growing hotter
With each passing moment. Then,as if a child on the
Beach relishing in his ability to scare away the birds,I
Felt a coolness on my neck, and reaching back to touch it
Discovered itwet. In my brief respite my rolling stone
Had become a bubbling pool of water,crystal clear and clean,
Containing a reflection with eyes I no longerrecognized.
And with the sun on the hill, and the sun on my back, Istood.
An army of one.
And as I stood the water rose, andlingered at the brim
And trickled down the hill, washing dead
Leaves to thegorge below, washing brown dirt from
Maple roots and startling crickets fromits path. I
Followed it for a time, until the sun was no longer
Discerniblein the sky, overcome by gray clouds
From across the ridge. And scared I
ran, away from the crater,
Away from the maples, away from thecrickets.
Away from the wood.
Now once touched and forever tainted,never again
To reach the state of wood, never again to see the
Wood thesame. Yet still alive. Still free to choose,
Still free to touch, still freeto conquer. Overhead
The lightning crashes, the bloodless tide expands
Tothe beat of the distant thunder. And yet still life flourishes.
Still it goeson, still it rambles. And I remember a
Rambling child, alone and free. Iremember a rambling child,
Young, and easy.
Returning years later Iwandered again in search of the
Pool, my sense of direction gone withchildhood.
Shyly I glanced upwards, finding a vast circle of emptiness.
Istumbled to its center, now a mile away,
And I found my pool. Still bubbling,after so many
Years. Still overflowing, after so much growth. To the
Sidelay my stone, now reduced to pebbles from years
Of wear, now weak compared tothe mighty crater,
Following the trickle down thehillside I saw it soon
Joined by similar trickles, and before my eyes itbecame
A brook. Descending further saw my brook become a
Creek, and mycreek become a stream. And I wondered
How many stones had been overturned. Howmany
Hills were left untouched, how many pools had
Been created? And theanswers are still out there, on
A solitary stone, on a solitary hill, under asolitary sun.
Swaying, in an empty breeze.
And so I stopped andpeered in the direction from
Which I had come, perhaps a mile from whereI
Now stood. Then I gazed ahead, another mile
To the nearest bend. Againbehind, again upward,
Again to the road ahead. Hit headlong by the
Breeze Istruggled to stand, unbalanced by a balancing
Force. Touched again by the everuntouched,
Touched again by life remaining to be seen,
Still I lookedto the road ahead.
The clouds circled in, and my memory told me torun.
But I stood, and the clouds fluttered. I listened behind me
And hearda trickle, meek but proud. I listened forward and
Heard a roar, fierce,forceful, frightening. And so I turned,
Once again to where I had been and towhere I was going.
And grown much older I ventured forward, towards thebend,
Towards the roar. Driven by something I once understood but
Had sinceforgotten, something lost in city walls.
That which had driven me to thewood.
I stopped on the shoulder, the roar now almost deafening.
Istopped and looked. Behind me at all that had gone before,
At childhood, atinnocence, at tranquility. Upward at the
Deep blue, the untouched, theunravished. Forward at the
Unknown, the inevitable, my life to come.
Andwith the sun on the hill,
And the sun on my back,
I rounded thebend.
Alas! - The raging river.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.