Here in the mountains even roots climb
with energy that is male, active. I am edgy
and on guard, a stark contrast to the serenity
of these woods. Light and shadow part
the trees, and I open to the wind’s soft breath,
the rustling sway of branches. They are
counterpoint to danger I feel on the periphery:
a fall down the steep incline, an encounter
with a sharp-toothed or slithering creature
whose habitat I invade.
Trees blur, and I cannot see the path’s end.
All around I sense others who traveled this
ground. How many remain on the forest floor
after danger became real, became death?
My buffered life and its illusions of control
are no help to me in this untamed place.
Basic skills to survive are not in my suburban
bag of tricks. Those survivors who journeyed
here humble me now. I feel their hands steady
me, help to push against blue-gray smoke
of my own mortality. I hear their voices urging
me to take a deep breath, savor this moment
in space and time, let the mountains’ vast energy
flow through me and into the sky’s waiting arms.
Cynthia J. Lee
Mountain Soul (20 x 16, Oil, cold wax, mica, charcoal, marble dust on wood)