Just Another Map

by Daron Larson

How many science classes
are required to convince a believer
the sun never rises or sets,
that thunderstorms don't have personalities? 

We've hiked both sides of Champlain enough
to recognize a few of the ways the ranges rhyme:

     in mineral and mud,
     in vegetable, pitch, and rustle.

But we are not sufficiently seasoned
to avoid making plans based on
itineraries discovered in used books.

It takes time to realize
how little of what we've been told
  can be taken literally.
The best stories living in the sacred texts
  have been poems all along.
It's only the paradoxes that are to be believed and
  to be lived.

I have tasted the wisdom and comfort of bark.
The steadiness I steal from it
shares roots with stirrings behind my sternum
generated by swinging too high,
  plunging too fast,
the rising sap of my body's desire
  to continue beyond itself,
even the heat I've felt radiating from
freshly vacated pews or leather shoes.

From up here,
the world is just another map
I don't know how to read or refold.

I have neglected again
to track the ticks in the gap
between the trees singing the sounds of the sea
and the trickle of gravity spilling over stones.

It's not the heat or the humidity. 
It's the accumulation of steps
tallied by the bones in our feet.

Ashes, aspens, we all slow down.

When the ache grows too great,
 and we've become too tired to walk,
    we run.

You and I have seen fireworks over these mountains
before we could hear them explode.
Now we have also watched lightning
silhouette their distant relatives, 
hilling the air around us in an instant.

Oak, fir, pine; we're all felled in time.