Three Logs Dancingby Graybyrd
Autumn-yellowed aspen leaves fall along his trail.
A grey-bearded traveller weaves a white-barked maze,
The shy mule deer slip away discreetly but
He glimpses their movement through the shadow-dappled haze.
An oncoming storm fringed with ragged cloud rims the sky.
A snow-foreboding wind stings his face, burns his eyes.
The trail comes to deep river pools and foaming shards
where black gouts of water surge through the rocks.
A canyon-driven wind moans in forested dissonance;
Spiteful gusts slap and press his parka cold against him.
Moody trees edge the river, crowding close in ragged ranks,
Towering over fallen ancients hurled down by winter storms.
Survivors on the river's rim stand tall in uncertain stance,
Root-clenched to undercut footings; doomed in time to fall
Crashing to the river to lay and wait for the spring flood,
Then to be pushed along and piled at every bend in jackstraw heaps.
Stair-stepped the river runs, plunged into granite pools.
Swirls of leaves pirouette, teased along by puffs of breeze.
Gray-beard traveller pushes on, pressing through the willow break,
Leafless red bark branches trace lines on his wide-brimmed hat.
"So many winters now."
Streams of boyhood memories come,
carefree days of fishing here,
Silver Colorado spinners,
bait in pipe tobacco cans.
Youthful eyes scanned the pools,
seeking where trout lay feeding.
Balanced on a mid-stream boulder, reading eddy lines as measures,
He the symphony conductor, his baton a fishing rod.
Aiming casts in measured cadence,
Flickering lure in swirling currents.
Heart and fish together leaping,
scarlet-sided rainbow streaking,
fishtail-dancing, dark head shaking,
boy and reel together singing,
Rod arching, arms straining
high above his head.
Cries of exultation,
Footsteps follow memories now, step for memory step he goes,
Climbing up his river trail last followed forty summers ago
Until the secret place is reached.
Here the river canyon narrows,
Sheer walls arching over,
enveloping constricted waters.
Here is where the three trees fell, bridge across a rushing maelstrom.
Here is where the river roars, its thundering, impatient waters
locked in untold eons of conflict, hurled against the granite walls.
Here relentless river gods test an unrelenting mountain.
Eyes wide with apprehension; wind-flung spray chilled his face;
Self-doubts urged hesitation, ought he dare to cross this place?
Boldly then he sprang upon them, dared the Gods to fault his courage.
Upon their backs he sang, rejoicing, "See me cross the three logs dancing!"
The old man arouses,
A cold wind stirs and
reality transcends reverie.
"I know the homestead lies beyond
And by the doorway every spring
The pungent rhubarb grew
And every fall red apples ripened,
Hanging, waiting, cold and sweet."
Waves of memories flood his mind,
Of sunshine days round about the cabin,
Fields of timothy grass and sunflowers;
Mule deer grazing boldly near.
"It's enough," his mind assures him.
The boy is gone forever now;
The man marked by many winters.
With inward smile and careful steps,
Descending, tracking back along his
Life in quiet peace he goes.
In memory's eye a boy remains;
A boy with joyful yell goes leaping,
Three-log dancing, singing, racing
To the sunshine cabin beyond.