It’s the silence itself that becomes the siren's song
A call to escape into the forest—if for a while
A mad dash to escape the madness
As Seth and I made our way
Downstream and down through time.
For even on the stream that inspired the fictional Ryland Creek,
there are signs of humanity--
Remnants of another time.
Here, an old iron surveyor’s post.
A demarcation between the past and present.
A portal to some other when.
An old concrete conduit,
How did it get here, or where did it come from--
some old highway, long since abandoned?
Now, it rests far from the eyes of men,
but a funnel for lost memories.
A brick . . . from where,
when all the homes within miles are made of wood?
Part of the once-many gang sawmills,
which nearly a century and a half ago,
had stripped the hills clean of nearly every tree?
But perhaps the most startling find of all . . .
Walking behind Seth,
I spied it,
thinking it first a track in the mud.
But when I reached down,
my fingers found stone.
Why had I not seen it, considering the hundreds of times
I’d walked By this place?
Had the rushing creek waters finally cleared away sediment,
to reveal sentiment?
Was it simply the work of random erosion, or
belonging to a cub, or perhaps even, human?
For in the mud, there’s not much difference
between bare feet and bear feet.*
Had a young boy stood on the bank,
listening to his grandfather explain
how to catch the trout that spawned upstream?
Or had someone, some millennia ago
—long before Sharon, Rose, Lill, or Mist--
walked here shoeless in her own Ryland Creek?
What were her thoughts as she waded through an ankle-deep stream?
We cannot know.
A soundless impression, made in the moment,
reverberating across centuries.
And for the time being,
Maybe an echo is all that is required.
* With the notable exception that a bear's big toe is on the outside of the foot. So what looks like a human's left foot, is actually a bear's right foot, and vice versa.