for my father
In this dream an old, lame man
climbs a steep hill
to sit on a rock
that’s half a rock
since the lower half fell on the road below
and nearly killed the lame old man
twenty years before.
“Size of a small cabin!”
So he sits on the rock
on the top of the hill and watches the road
and the river beyond it and
his eyes move along all the
deer trails that run down his hill,
a filigree of lacey dust
made by delicate hooves,
each trail a marvel of economy,
a path to water carved brilliantly
in the river’s canyon.
From the top, it is easy for him to see
the trails deer make naturally,
without thinking, he thinks.
Or do they think?
Or are they too busy for thinking?
What does a deer think about thinking?
But the lame man’s trail is not a deer’s.
He looked and looked
and looked for it
and couldn’t find a trace
of his own trail up the hill.
Then he thought he might have seen a scuff or two
between the deer paths.
But was that really his trail?
Or some clumsy fawn’s?
No, his trail to the top left no track.
Nothing was carved in the hill to remind him
If he had to rely on memory for existence
his life would be like raindrops on dust.
He’d left no more trail than a Redtail does,
and less than buzzards do
who repeat their circles
with practical intent.
© Bill Hatch