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{A prose poem about a trip I took in the Fall of '09.}

I got out of the car after driving for a couple of hours. I changed my shoes for hiking boots, strapped on a fanny pack, and started walking. The trail climbed steeply. It was wide and deeply eroded despite the switchbacks. I stopped often to rest, not being in as good shape as I once was. I passed a family on foot, and was passed by a group on horseback.

When I reached the summit, I had to wait next to the shelter for a while, until the group with the horses were finished with it. Then, when everyone else had left, I sat on the wooden seat inside and looked out at the fall colors. According to a sign in the shelter, from there I could see bits of eight counties in two states. Unfortunately, I couldn't see the dotted lines, like on the maps, so I gave up imagining where the divisions were. All I saw were hillsides and trees and sky.

A turkey vulture drifted by at eye level, but far above the trees below. Its head turned this way and that, but it made no effort to look back, or very far ahead. It teetered and turned, following the flow of air, but it did not backtrack.

We drift through the moments, created by our past but not caught by it. We glide through the present, steering by instinct, searching for what is. What will be will come; what is past is gone.

I hiked down by a different path.


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