Along the western crest
framing the edge of the Grouse Creek bottoms,
a band of old boulders shoulder their way
down the slope that notes the change
from rolling pasture to flat land.
Some are the size of cows
and some the size of tiny houses,
all abandoned by a few millennia of dirt
washed away and leaving them
to their own hard-faced survivals.
A shrug of smaller rocks blotch their colors
amidst the leaves and stems and sticks,
a mixing of winter colors among the bases
of trees and brush, vines and such.
As I pedaled my way along the river road,
one great boulder caught my eye—
something about the way it stood,
alone, squarish and rugged.
Stepping carefully among the stones
on a rather warm afternoon
on the second Saturday of March,
watchful lest there be some ambitious copperhead,
I took a couple of pictures.
Curious, I slanted uphill and to the side,
still cautious of my stride
and what might be hiding among the leaves.
Ninety degrees away from my first view,
I learned what many never knew,
only seeing from the road and its easy way
of passing by from day to day:
Ten feet wide and fifteen feet tall,
the boulder was less than two feet thick in the middle,
top and bottom mushroomed out into something
that more resembled an hourglass
than a mass of immutable stone,
an illusion, perhaps, but an unmistakable suggestion
that a fierce wind or a slight quake
would make all that nothing more
than a pile of rubble tumbling toward the road ditch.
How often, I wondered, do we look at others
from only that certain view in passing,
and have no idea of life’s loads
held massed above such slender bearings,
heavy cares un-shared, unseen and unknown?
And all the while carefully shifting our own
to keep the thin view from showing
to those who cautiously walk
through the shadows of our passing.