We hiked along a gray summit trail
where wild grass was slapped flat
from winter’s rough hands.
The trails were easy, even without compass
we found our way, yet oddly, redbud trees
lit the dead woods with a discomfort of color.
We had walked miles, circled hidden groves
that clung to their dried fruits, admired those unwilling
to drop summer’s bounty.
We managed to avoid certain dangers—
(yes, the path was uneven), it was the edge
of things, a ledge or trail’s end we shied from.
In the weeds a painter set an easel and brushed
a slice of moon into his sky. We wondered
if it was waxing or waning, or if that even mattered.
As we walked toward the forest edge a red-tailed hawk
swooped our caps. From the whoosh of wings, small birds
scattered like dry leaves. We crouched. We waited, disquieted.
Hundreds of peepers were silenced by the movements
of the hawk. When danger passed, the soundscape re-emerged:
the drill of a woodpecker, the trilling of frogs,
all rose higher into a full chorus, the marsh rippled
with life. We stood, talked of temple bells,
crisp and sure, the hands that held them,
and how they ring