Geologic Time

My walking stick takes its measure of the trail
in soft moss-thumps & stony clacks,
a metronome interrupted only by the odd rock that buzzes back,
by glimpse of furtive salamander
or glimmer of lady’s-slipper blossom in a laurel thicket.

The ridge has its own kind of rhythm,
knob after knob like joints in the spine
of some Paleozoic Midgard Serpent
that once held the earth in its coils & here
slipped its skin. For these mountains, like snakes,
have renewed themselves age after age, keep their own time

& by the end of my second day I’ve made the adjustment,
reckoning the flow of hours
not in the growth of my shadow or in miles hiked,
but drop by drop:
cloud condensing on pitch pine needles,
hermit thrush song.


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