Forest Walk

By Dairine Pearson

At the end of the day, the forest calls me home. I enter the trail obediently, moving fast and alone, not seeing the unfolding masses falling away at the edges of my vision. I begin, every bright leaf moving towards me, the rocks rising up to meet my palms. In twenty breaths I am loosed, body shifting left and right, west and east, always in forward motion. Thoughts spill out and over my head. There is music in my ears, all sounds tuned to each tree, to bark and trunk, to each curving green branch, to the shale and water, to the soft edges and beyond those edges, and then resounding to the sky above. Everything is green and a thousand colors of green. Even the browns and grays and whites are green. Each leaf is a breath, all the woods a great crowd gathered around me, drifting away out of sight. The rocks are covered with transparent skin, pressure sensitive and warm, with roots snaking through the places where they touch the earth. The poison oak is quiet and evil. The stones of the stream wait patiently, offering their backs to open palms. The water keeps its distance, knowing its cold crystalline beauty. I am shoulders, legs and lungs, brain unraveling, eyes ever more dazzled. The ground springs instantly back under each step, every footfall a micro-negotiation of weight and balance, achieved in an instant and then forgotten. Heart and mind switch places, rising and falling in alignment with the trees. I might be warm or cold. Someone nearby is thirsty and panting. Thoughts become feelings, become thoughts again and diffuse into the air. I feel that thing called awe, and I feel ordinary and out of breath. All around is endless green unfolding that refuses to stop, settle and limit itself, a living being beyond impression, beyond words, beyond me, beyond capture and negotiation, only release.

After immigrating from Ireland, Dairine Pearson has lived in Goleta for over 30 years. She works as a grief counselor and finds solace and healing in nature, music, movement and poetry. Also by this poet: "Hot Flash"