Ridge Walk
by Cindy Brookshire
Color kicks off the peak leaf season
On the Blue Ridge Parkway
Loosed from gated retirement communities
The ladies with their leisure jackets
The men with their plaid flat-fronts
Barely pause their luxury cars in caravans
at the crowded overlooks
To snap quick iPhone images
In their winding rush to line up for tables
at Milepost 176
Where water pleads over wooden wheel
And the buckwheat stacks and country ham
Call them back to Dan, Virginia
and Mabry Mill.
I think you miss the real mountains
When your feet never leave the asphalt
Don’t they remember boots hugging the trail?
Breaking the first step of morning
with dewy webs against cool skin?
Fighting loose rock to gain foot holds
Avoiding the stinging nettles,
Soaking sweat with bandanas,
Breath hot, straining
Ascending, twisting, pushing on
The lofty vista, and finally, the easy ridge walk
Spotting a deer – shh! – watching
With mutual respect as the wild thing
crunches brown against green
And leaps away
Majestic with muscular power?
I’d rather hike, my love
Pick blueberries, stir up pancakes,
Cook over a small fire
Sleep under the stars
Feel the mountains
Beneath me.

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