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