ECHOES IN THE HILLS
The traveler had never found himself this far before,
surely not this late in the season.
In his farm flat American Midwest, journeys like his meet few mountains;
more likely lenient slopes and lush hills
inviting you to tread easily
among their subtle inclines.
Yet always this beckoning, this near-far siren call, just beyond.
Somewhere over those next clutches of elm
and legions of wheat
he knows there is something hinting his name.
Journeys have destinations
even when not marked on the map.
In the final measure they are best marked by the traveler’s shadow crossing them,
making this trip the same for everyone,
yet unrepeatable by anyone.
He pauses under the chalky veil of moonlight
to breathe in the night and breathe out the day.
From this point on, nights and days are one.
Oh, they were thousands by the count of his heart,
each thick with unforgettable moments
now mostly forgotten.
Except those once populated by people he loved.
Indispensable people and dispensable people, happy people and angry people,
people of blood and people of love;
they and their once upon a days now fever his brain as the journey shortens.
If only he could sort them all out and place them in their proper place
within this cape he wears against the hastening chill.
There was a time, a sacred time, when he loved them all.
And they him.
The fairest of gifts any traveler can expect.
These last steps he must take alone.
Not without their fragrant echoes, but without them.
“We enter the world alone, we leave it alone.”
Another cliche proves itself true.
Now it’s his turn.
But in looking up he finds the truth was incomplete.
for what the cliche forgets to add is:
“Here at the journey’s end, all those fragrant echoes come with you.”
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