Before the Earth Froze (Written October 27, 2017)

Before the Earth Froze

Who can say when the tracks were made?
Some time before the earth froze, weeks,
months, or even years ago. The size
and depth of the impressions suggest

A heavy-set woman; not young.
The straight line of movement indicates
purpose; nothing haphazard. Until
almost the end, when the forest becomes
thicker and darker, and she loses

Her way, and lurches from side to side.
Perhaps, in the dark, she feared the animals
that she had heard so much about,
the wolves and the coyotes,
the snakes and the boars,

Or perhaps she simply grew tired
and would have liked to lie down,
rest a moment, and listen
to the birds in the trees
and the rustling of the leaves.

Did I know her? I thought I did,
because I loved her. But love is never
enough. She was alone, in her mind,
and had no reason to hope
it might be otherwise.

She had played along, as true as anyone,
but the end, she knew, was near,
when the wind and the rain would come
and wash away all remembrance.

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