I have learned to walk in darkness,
by the light of the stars, or on the blackest of nights.
In a forest of unyielding rocks,
and unexpected tufts of wiry grass, cactus, and deadfall trees.
Along elk trails, or hiking trails,
and rough dirt roads covered in ridges, swells, and potholes.
With steady feet and balance,
One foot firmly planted, knees slightly bent, I take the step.
A log can trip, a rock can turn, a hole can devour,
but with one foot on solid ground, this limping fate is avoided.
I have learned the depth of shadow, the slight of angle, the smell of damp earth.
Dark shadows are a warning, and light implies levelness, though not always.
By walking in darkness, I have fine-tuned my senses,
my own footsteps sound like cannonballs being fired.
I can hear a mouse patter over loose dirt,
smell the damp areas,
hear a pinecone fall and recognize the hollow sound from far away.
I can sense an open area ahead, or feel the discomfort of something too close.
Steadily, step by step, guided by familiar stars and the slope of the land,
I return to my vehicle and relax my step.
Inevitably, I trip on the guideline of my tent, and smile.
Roxy Whalley – Originally drafted in 2009, completed in July 2012