I Contemplate Wisdom and Fear While Walking
Padden Creek Trail Late at Night
My excursion downtown has been unfruitful.
My head is muddled, troubled by what I spend money on.
I’ve squandered so much, including the joy of a stunning
sunset hours earlier. I ride the Fairhaven bus toward home.
To clear my head, I decide on an impromptu walk
up Padden Creek Trail, start just southeast of the estuary.
I’m without walking stick or staff, clearly unwise.
While the lower trail bordered with cedar is dark,
ambient light allows me to discern and follow the trail —
barely. I don’t fear drop-offs. I hear a big cat cough.
It must be someone’s television or just my overworked
imagination. Sightings to the south in the Chuckanut
Mountains are rare, questionable. Why have I banned
myself from forested night? Where deciduous trees
crowd the creek and trail, the canopy is still open
and I see reefs of scudding clouds, planets and stars
occasionally. The 12th Street bridge is lit up, garish
in sodium yellow, its gorge ghostly in yellow light,
creek surface where I can see it reflecting yellow,
forming and reforming. I pass underneath the bridge,
think about a homeless man who slept between
these stanchions, and another man who slept
under one end of the bridge this past winter.
Beyond the bridge to the east it’s dark again,
woods thick with evergreens and less ambient light.
I hear but can’t see the creek, only sense trailside brush
and Douglas firs towering above me. Something stirs
just off the trail, startling me. I stop, face the noise,
raise my fists, finally relax. It’s only life —
reminding me to remain present, to pay attention.
Tonight I refuse to forfeit this softly-lit strip
of woods and creek. Of course I make it home.
I’m clear-eyed, clear-headed finally.
Note: I’m buying a walking stick.
Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 2