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,
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)