What we once had, we still have.
|I grew up on the mountain--|
running barefoot through the forest,
hopping stones across the stream,
splashing in the lake before
swimming like the fish,
flying like the birds from tree to tree.
No other kids for miles, so
the geese became my friends. We'd hold
long conversations during sunrise
when they came to my call
and we ate breakfast together.
I'd swim with their little ones.
I ran trails with the deer--
they had no fear of me and
would eat from my hand. They
taught me how to run fleet
through the brush. My mountain
was both friend and teacher.
Summers, I'd camp out
under a canopy of stars not dimmed
by city lights. I would drink my fill
from the Milky Way and never thirst.
I listened to their music,
and sang their ancient songs.
During high school, my parents moved
to town, where the skies dimmed
and the moon was lost in haze.
The roads were walled in with sidewalks.
I could look out my bedroom window
and watch the neighbors watch me.
The last night on the mountain
we had a bonfire. I watched the sparks
circle high and wanted to fly away
even as I had when the geese flew south.
I felt as though I was being put in a cage,
penned in by new rules and expectations.
The next day, I went out by the burn pit.
The logs had burned to grey, cracked bones
that disintegrated with a touch. Climbed my maple tree
for the last time. My world was already feeling different
as if I were a stranger there. I didn't fit in that new world
and I didn't know how to say goodbye.
The world seasoned differently in town. Clocks
replaced the sun, no one believed one
could run with the deer. The magic was fading,
disintegrating every bit as much as the logs
from our final fire. Still caught between two
worlds, I was drowning in a world without water.
Then my grandmother came to visit.
She told me I hadn't left my mountain behind.
Child, the mountain streams run through your veins,
your eyes will remember the patterns of the stars,
and you will never forget the lessons your mountain
taught you. You don't need to be there to remember.
Half a century later and far from
my mountain home, I still carry her essence.
But I've learned the bones of my youth
can't be charred to ash. Lessons learned
are forever intrinsic. At a campfire, watching
hazy smoke rise to the stars, I still hear their song.