|Apr/May 2010 Poetry Special Feature|
We hike a dry branch of the Ripsaw Creek,
kick at the glint of feldspar and sand. My daughter
slows in the autumn heat, puffs at a strand of hair.
She finds treasure in what nature's discarded:
mouse skull, turkey feather, a tattered nest
she pokes with a stick. She wrinkles her nose
in the persistent light. Rough globes of hedge apples thud
from the Bodark. We hum to the lullaby
of the wind-stirred maple, the rattle of sycamore leaves.
My daughter is wandering away
into the wilds of adulthood too soon.
I cherish those small fingers of wonder she once lost in my beard,
her easy breathing curled close to my chest.
Now the ruttle and rack of distant cattle intrude.
Donkeys stand watchful, ear-splayed and dumb.
I lift her over the fur-barbed fence and we parse a path
through the haphazard dung and head home. In the grapevines
the warning of titmice and wrens.
Watch where I'm going, my daughter sings.
As if there were anything else in the world
a father could possibly do.