by Eric D. Lehman
Our first autumn on the mountain was the hardest.
The land had not given up its secrets, and the summer work
had nearly crushed us. Our bodies cracked and creaked
their way around the craggy traprock paths, decaying
from the inside, beginning a long decline. Winter awaits
a numbed finger, a wounded hip, a dragging foot, but more –
the logs we chopped, the books we wrote, the bonds we made.
Our hands are older now. But nuthatches thank us, and cats
curl around the thought of a stretch by the roaring fire.
There is work to be done on that mountain yet, endless
work, with small success and comfort at the end, a few
bright days, a shelf of books, and the memory
of being held tightly under flannel sheets. Love
is the truest victory, but not the only one, and those
of us who toil in the high, poetic mountains
must struggle each year, and one day build not hope
but happiness—not spring, but autumn.
First published at ken*again.