Chaplin Nature Center

On a bright summer morning
before the heavy heat of mid-day,

we make our way among the shadows of twisted trees
beneath a speckled covering of leaves and branches,
past chance sightings of dragonflies and butterflies
in their flits of darting and tumbling.

Along the line of this tiny ridge
a small creek defines one edge—to the east—
while what seems could be an ancient road
borders the other side.

I have seen old road beds before,
deep ruts long covered by a mat of leaves and grass
and the thatch that grows up beneath the trees
shaping something that seems smooth to something other than an oxcart.

None of the trees growing up in this narrow flat
that borders the bluff seem any older than me
and the way it holds to an even width
makes me think this bank I’m walking was not circumstantial.

Along the bluff and across the bottomland,
large sycamore and elm and other hardwoods rise up.
A massive oak takes my eye away from the mystery of the road;
thick dark limbs in soft bends curve up toward the light.

We come to a clearing, a spreading of green grass
in a deliberate space meant for sharing food.
We stand in the midst of stillness and sunshine,
a soft stirring moving around us in the upper branches.

I see no sign of trail leaving the area
other than the one that brought us here.
We turn back to walk among the shadows,
along the known path that takes us back where we have been.

There will be other times for following other trails,
or the making of new ones.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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