A Walk in Spring

by Bill Keller

I skied these woods when snow was deep,
learned about its slopes and shadows,
the openings between the trees
that were sketchpads for my double lines.
Threading quickly down, then climbing;
I was tireless until muscles ached. 

But on this April day, not yet green,
back again on this unused trail,
I’m overcome by such fatigue,
I doubt that there is magic here. 

Dragging my feet through last year’s leaves,
my legs—just taped-together sticks—
are easy prey for hidden rocks 
poking through every passageway
down from the well-spaced elder oaks
to where social saplings gather. 

My wandering thoughts seem to settle
on the certain knowledge that this place
would be just exactly as it is
without me, will be soon enough. 

Somewhere, though, I lean against a tree,
test my weight on trunk and roots;
rough bark scratches me awake
and for a little while, at least,
as if each bole bears an orange blaze: 
I see a path everywhere I look!

Photo by Bill Keller

Bill Keller

novelist and poet