Passing Signs

I hike the Smoky Mountains, that misty

purple roller coaster laced with silent

reminders of life before, layer upon layer

rising into this ancient forest. Ochre

pervades my pores—pigment of ancestors,

formed of iron oxide hurled from

the planet’s core.  It is early autumn

and I am ochre, searching for magnetic

north.  I feel ghostly markings along this

trail, maps I cannot read, illusive

blueprints to tell a traveler where to turn

left or right, where to find water or

a place to rest for the night.  I am red ochre

lines on a rock. A stacking of stones,

branches crossed beside the path.   Signs

to say:   Others were here. Go this way.

I am handprints on an ancient cave wall,

a squiggly line, a series of dots made

in charcoal from a safe fire’s embers—

an affirmation in ash, that a soul, like me,

once journeyed here, then moved on.

—Cynthia J. Lee

Mountain Tapestry-email

Mountain Tapestry (16 x 16, Oil, cold wax, marble dust, mica flakes on wood)


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