I am walking.
There is no clear purpose to the walking,
no reason for me to do it. The walk is possible
only because night surrounds me. I am not
walking so much as disappearing,
the giant shadow of the night covering me.
My thought was to move, to keep
moving, to move one foot quickly after the other
so that I would be always in motion.
When I cross into the park, I seem
to cross into darkness. Every streetlight
is obscured by a tree, and these semi-wild woods
arch over any open space. As I move across the lawn,
the dark smell of skunk pervades everywhere.
The skunk itself is invisible, part of the night.
I head for the hill and the broken steps that climb
half-way up it. I can’t quite see the ground
my sandals must hold onto.
At the top of the hill, the world opens up
into a little light, enough to allow me to see into
the few trees scattered over this hill, one
a tiny tree with multiple trunks arising
from one spot. Across the street, a monument
to some war and the dead it left behind, and I
move down the hill and around the lake.
The lake catches the sky in its reflection,
so it is a second Milky Way at my feet, but wavering.
The stars are not bright enough to light
the night, but the moon is. I run into people
chattering in clusters, people in the dark, so people
without faces, and I find it difficult
to trust the faceless. As I walk far enough,
I leave the people. I am alone on a small ridge
above the baseball field, and I cannot
see. A couple of animals here move
away from me. I cannot tell what they are. They
may be skunks or raccoons. Sometimes, I am
on a path, one invisible to me, and sometimes
I’m not. I struggle
to find a way forward, to understand
where I might go next. I discover I am following
a path that runs over the top of the ridge,
and I follow it out of the woods.
Standing in a parking area, I
realize I must return to the woods, but they seem
too thick to penetrate, so I veer away from them,
following their border back to a road. Before my feet
touch the road, I hit a wooden fence, banging
my shin. I could not see the fence in the darkness, but
I return to the unsteady darkness, to the unsure woods,
to a place where I can be alone.
I wander these woods, following a barely
perceivable path, hoping to make it nowhere. My goal
is time, not destination. My goal is speed, how quickly
I can move over this unmarked trail. I stop,
briefly, by the side of the path, and in the dim light
I see leaves of poison ivy growing up the bark
of the tree. I don’t touch these. I move away
deeper into the woods.
Cutting through the woods at an angle,
in relation to the road, I make it to the road and follow
it around the final bit of the park. A car ignoring
a stop sign almost runs me down as I pass over
the entrance to the park, and I walk the last
curving block home.
As I walk home, I realize that I didn’t go to the far
western edge of the park, which seems wild
with trees to me, and I didn’t go deep into
the park’s eastern realm, where the thickets hide
a pond where I once saw a great blue heron
escape into the sky. There were no grand
surprises in the park tonight.
Someone here sees a falling star fall
through the night, a kind of ending, a certain form
of death, that we find beautiful. Cricketsong
throbs throughout the night.