I'll always remember those bluffs, those canyons they embraced, the cool air on the trails, the kind of quiet that is only found in the woods.
Giant City State Park, located in the hills of Southern Illinois, seemed an almost magical place to go when I was a child.
Alas, I understand that time has taken its toll on the bluffs, and the trails simply are no more.
But what a treat it was then to trudge those trails, imagining all the others who had walked there before, when it was all wilderness.
As a child I relished family outings there, especially those which extended into the evening, when we'd sit around, watching the crackling flames dancing in a fireplace in one of the shelters, listening to the adults trading stories, hoping to catch some of the night sounds of the woods, too.
Later, I took my own young family there to camp, to go tramping down the same trails I had explored, to let them feast on the same sights and sounds I had enjoyed.
In more recent years, when there were just the two of us on trips back to the place where I grew up, we always managed at least a drive through the park.
Those drives rekindled so many memories ... so many ...
This poem, which embodies some of those memories, is part of my first collection, Chance of Rain, published by Finishing Line Press:
AIR LIKE FOG
Morning air clings to me like fog
as I enter the deep, cool canyons
that thread the water-rounded bluffs,
where I pause for a moment to look
about, to drink an ancient silence
that flows and deepens while lichens
struggle up the pocked, towering walls,
up, up toward a swallow's nest, high
where clinging ferns await the random
blessings of summer shade and transient
yellow light; then I notice soft-edged
flecks of light dancing on the trail
where others must have stood watching,
where they may have heard, as I do now,
a crow, distant, calling them by name.
Today's word: crackling