Falls Trail, Early Spring

The river welcomes us

with soothing songs

it sings the whole night long.

We balance like high-wire artists

on a mossy log

and reach the other side.

 

We’ve got here just in time

before the forest closes up

with growth run wild,

before the rivers slow to a crawl

and the mosquitos settle in,

when only a few precocious

dogwoods are in bloom.

They say the first green is the finest.

 

That’s me nodding by the fire

from too much Yukon Jack,

boots toasted by the flames,

and that’s big, brawny Bo

roasting squirrels on the coals.

Here’s full-bearded Bryce

firing up his antique lantern

and incinerating several trees,

wide-eyed Horace finding the rubber snake

we planted in his sleeping bag,

bare-chested Bill singing in an icy waterfall,

the children catching  crawfish in the creek.

 

There’s Junior shining a flashlight

in the eyes of the stoned college boys

who have stumbled into camp.

Confronted with three giant black men

decked out in camouflage,

they drop their beer and make a run for it.

Holy shit, they cry, it’s the Marines.

And the through-hiker, skinny bastard,

living for weeks on fungus,

sleeping under a plastic sheet,

but not too proud to eat our stew.

Yes, I’ve been down this trail before,

but never in the rollicking company

of so many ghosts.

 

(originally published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature)

 

campfire

 

 

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