I started out the door, directionless. I wasn’t sure where I needed to get myself on to, yet sure I needed to find out. The electric hum was subdued here in the valley. While 18-wheelers filled with apples and oil and boxed sugar snacks slowly squealed and burned ’round the mountain’s switchbacks, they were a far cry fewer than those in the city. And without an endless maze of options from which to consume and graze, feast and fill, bellies and tanks, well there was a constant call to wander.
For in place of the fast and feeding barrage of city offerings was a chorus of geese, honking and flapping in tune with my meandering thoughts. And this soft, wet breeze licking and lapping at the hairs on my arm, at the want within, stirring my body in its current, the way only wind whipping off the sea does. And while I wasn’t by the sea, I was in the next closest place where I could feel her call. Teasing and soothing somehow simultaneously. I followed, picking up one foot then another, standing and allowing myself to simply set off walking into the field ahead.
There were dandelions at my feet and further on, an old barn with a faded red roof, and still further yet, a forested thicket on the banks of the river that gave way to endless hills and hollers, an expanse of stories through time. I took everything in, letting my mind blend it all into a soothing afternoon song, with a buttery Ella Fitzgerald in the wind humming a lullaby on fish and cotton and the raspy, whiskey smoke of Louis in the flapping and honking. I joined in on percussion, rustling toes through thick blades of grass, keeping time with this impromptu afternoon ensemble….unique to this field with these here grasshoppers, that too-bright sun, and this wind whoopin’ me like my mama after I’d thrown pinecones at the neighborhood boys.
I resisted any urge to document. To take a photo or draw a picture, to write down each detail. This moment demanded my full attention, required the whole un-busy me– wild, directionless and sure-footed the whole wonderfully unknown way.
**This poem is available in my book Soft With Me, printed and bound in Western North Carolina thanks to a grant from the N.C. Arts Council.