The Morning Constitutional I’ve got to get my wind back now.

This aching in my chest goes on Each day almost as soon as I Start out, sometimes before I wake, Before I hit the park, before the door Bangs shut, and I wrench free my key, The deadbolt thrown. I meditate, Feeling my way into the day, Trusting enlightenment to feet. Let morning go, I think, again, As all the closets are now full Of skeletons, old clothes and boxes, The empty suitcases and baskets Of journeys long complete, forgotten As fairy tales. I try to think Of what’s been going wrong each day, What habit of misstep brings me To this impassable divide, As if the road down off the mountain Had crumbled, washed away, flash flooded While I was sleeping. See the brown Upended roots? How soft the bed Of earth that lies before me now? There is no sign, no explanation, No detour, no worn path around The giant sweep of this destruction, This natural disaster spilled In front of me. Could I turn back, I think, and still get down from here? And then I realize the fact That I’ve been climbing, going up, Not down, the mountain. It’s the peak, Where I see dawn’s pink shadow glowing, That is the place that I’m supposed To go. The road has been destroyed, It’s true, but I can see from here That on the other side of this mudslide No road emerges. Wilderness Where no path goes, strangely untouched By having just been missed, serene With perfect memory recorded, And free of thinking of the distance Between itself and what’s behind— That’s where I should be. But I’m not.

I lean here on the brink, afraid, Uncertain and alone with thoughts That no one hears. I might be shouting, I might be singing through the void, I might be praying, at my road’s end, Feeling the summer heat begin. Sun glints off wings of dragonflies Whose diamond lives last just one season. I’ve got to get around this somehow, For soon enough, I must go home. This is, I must remind myself, Only an exercise, a trial. I turn uphill, through timothy, Star thistle, California poppy, Bluebells and foxtails, then the treeline, Light-rippled air. I will find A better place than this to jump.

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