The summer sun dapples the forest floor,
piercing through the pine and larch branches,
warming the blanket of needles,
inches deep, releasing the aroma
of slow coniferous decomposition.
The air seems thick, as if it harbors forest spirits,
invisible, yet palpable. Suddenly, everything
The familiar rustlings of mice and voles,
the comic scolding of squirrels,
the hammering of a piliated woodpecker,
the ongoing conversation and song
of smaller birds, the buzzing of horseflies, all stop dead.
There is no crash of deer through the brush as
they bound away, white tails waving good-by,
no stirring of rabbit in the dry grass.
The logging trucks, with air brakes like jackhammers,
have gone quiet on the road far below.
Familiar landmarks shimmer like heat waves,
and shift, just enough to let me know
there is magic here,
waiting to warmly enfold me,
to keep me---forever.
For a moment, I want to stay,
to burrow into the sweet pungency
and rest, time suspended. But,
then I feel a tingle on the back of my neck,
a stirring in my gut.
I turn slowly, afraid of what I’ll see,
not expecting bear, or cougar, or even gentle deer,
but something that shouldn’t be there---
a door, perhaps, or an empty chair, or something dark.
Completing my rotation, I see only the sunlight,
the trees, and dappled forest floor.
My heart pounds in the silence.
I feel that I am about to learn a secret.
I run all the way back to the cabin.