Poem by Jack Powers

Photography © Juliet Stone

 

Trails

Maybe it was this way, a trail treaded across the mountains
over fallen trunks and tumblerock streamlets,
mosquitoe noisewhirr and birdflutter
not alone always, but sometimes sharing a tent
cooking at the same fire, jagged shadows dancing
against forest outline, looking up at stars
when flames had sunk to cracleashes
talking about time or why against the vast
vault of sky, and one day, you were there
climbing the same, sweating, stopping for spring water
or wine swig with biting cheese, holding branches
back for me, or my arm extended to steady you
crossing the slippery log, or hand pressed into hand
luxuriating in the unexpected soft grass of meadow,
and the trail had been so long, and now it was so beautiful,
finding our own names for trees, flowers, stars
happy when the night cramped us into sleeping bags of closeness
but, it was something, hard to explain, a sense really,
which grew, of not quite, of not really s’possed to be, of
apprehension, oh, so nervous in the midst of happybe
and it came, it was, it suddenly revealed, what at the
next trail marking, you see how this can happen, an accident
really, whos fault?, no one at all, but my trail
had gone so long and far, and briefly doubled back over itself,
and how could I recognize after all of that time, and you,
just starting out a while ago couldn’t have known,
and we thought we were together, going together, to the same end,
but at the crossing, two trails of different color,
and me going towarddarker mountains of swirlgrey tops and cold,
and you toward the thick green of what I once knew,
and you could break the rules, and come with me, share
with me this sparse life of coming winter, and perhaps
you would, or even should, but I couldn’t come with you, now,
that is done with me, and we stood in confusion,
we camped there in indecision, we cried into each others hair
through a long night, and in the too early morning
of swollen eyes and wrenched hearts, we went our destined ways,
we, we couldn’t find the other.

 

Photography © Juliet Stone
Photography © Juliet Stone

 

Jack Powers (1937-2010) founded Stone Soup Poetry on May 1, 1973. Today’s poem first appeared in issue 28 of Stone Soup, an archived journal he self-published.