I’m on a morning hike to exhume
something arcane and precious from soil,
rich or putrefied —
mushroom, helleborine, maybe
an aboriginal axe blade —
but the ground’s as hard as bad luck.
One good look around me
and the treasure map in my head crumples.
The woods are corrosion in withered green.
Sun’s a viper coiled around the throat
and biting fierce.
Failure points are everywhere.
In the stillness, the painted dry,
the heart-worn droop of branches.
And there’s the stories
scratched plain as dust in the river bed,
no rain, no cooling, no current,
just stains head-high to a floundering river trout.
It all makes sense.
The long drought has bumped all living
into the background.
What the weather couldn’t steal,
Coarse, raw, brown, baked...
no surface is its own.
I will return with nothing.
And I believe that’s everything.