Dawn of the Journey
By Sally Rice
Through the pre-dawn mists peeked the crag,
and near me the gnarled oak, vine
laden, hung over the stream as a bridge
for quarreling squirrels. I checked my pocketwatch
and thought of the second wanderer—
late. I studied the worn scuffs of my shoe;
over many a mountain that old worn shoe
and its mate had led me over, bridges
it had crossed, great boulder and crag
it had climbed. Again I checked my pocketwatch,
brushing a wayward, windblown vine
away from the span's rail. I was a wanderer
too, you know. A first rate wanderer—
if there is such a thing. The sun came over the crag
and shards of light broke though the vines,
creating a magical scene about that old bridge;
it was as if a scene from Cinderella—that girl with the glass shoe—
had exited a fairytale and entered into real life. A pocketwatch
lost its value; what place had a pocketwatch
in magic? Or my dirty, scuffed old shoe?
But a man of adventure, a true wanderer,
would belong. His sword would bring down the vines,
clearing a path to the dragon's nest upon the black crag,
where a damsel waited for rescue, and all just beyond the bridge…
I laughed—what a fantasy!—standing on that bridge.
My friend, my fair lady, the second wanderer
had arrived. Smiling, I pulled out my pocketwatch;
she made no excuse, but tapped on shoe impatiently,
eager to be away. The sun had risen fully over the crag,
the damp clung no longer to leaf of vine,
it grew warmer, the breeze hardly stiffing the vines.
Taking her hand, I led her off the bridge;
my companion, my damsel, my fellow wanderer.
Slowly we went, the dusty road stirred only by our shoes.
No more did I mind the time or pocketwatch,
my eyes were on her alone, her eyes were on the nearing crag.
How could a man forever journey and wander
alone? Without another heart to cross the next bridge,
or a love to guide over mountain, valley, and bleakest crag?