Ann Arbor Review
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Silver Grey Fox
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I am a passing heartbeat, a runner's footfalls
On clay, humus, and leaf litter
Beneath trees indifferent to the animate--
I waste no time, no breath,
Alert to the path ahead. Look!
One hundred eighty-four roots
Angling out of the beaten soil and leaves
Like scarred knuckles and misshapen arms.
Look! One hundred four rocks
Rounds and edges poking up askew along the way.
I glance up, down to the path.
Left, then down to the path. Ahead, down to the path.
Note tree territories by their leaf fall.
Considering the seed to stem to leaf to blossom then seed.
No self or identity by which to acknowledge an other,
No gesture by which to express. No compulsion to nouns, verbs.
See here the oaks mix with maples,
But there maples and tulip trees abut without blending.
Surely roots then converse in chemical vocabularies.
I sense beneath my shoes their negotiations
Of ecologies and boundaries.
Up the steep creek bed slope
I balance breath between poised lips.
Step more sprightly
On roots, rocks for traction.
Pebbles slip, roll. Taking root
Language says without sense.
Slower at the top, lungs filled with heartbeat.
No. Leaving root sense replies.
Beyond the dogwoods,
The path level and smoother among oaks
Enables heart and legs to beat as one.
Deeply as oxygen I crave a sustaining vision.
A little awareness unrestrained by mind and emotion.
Equation, language offers. Numerator yielding to denominator.
No. The gradual motion of seed, fruit, and nut seeking
Sunlight, water, sustaining soil.
Out of the woods, along the river and lake shore,
Eyelids slit against sunlight brilliance off water top.
I ride a steady lungrhythm, a chug of breath
Forceful as muscle at every other footfall crunching the gravelly bank.
Past languid geometries of queen anne's lace and aster blossoms,
The rigid mathematics of clumped bluestem, bottle brush, and cattail grasses,
All unaware of the motion of nearby waves or passing animate
Let alone a concept of movement.
I look up. Across. Distant. Listen.
Cooper hawk whistle. Goldfinch trill. Crow bark.
Animates all in motion and passage.
I waste no time in passing. Waste no breath.
Reaching the half way point,
The only measure to the cycle,
I slow. Reach. Stretch. Turn about.
Walk ten breaths. Resume pace
Back the same route.
Seeing the same but from the other side,
Balancing on merged footfall and breath
Until without knowing
The state of present or past.
Until mindful without thought.
Conscious without self.
A part merged to the whole, and whole to the parts.
To implode in a puff of plasma and sweat droplets
Scattered by cooling breeze in the direction of home.
Michael D. Long, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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